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The  Master,  Jules  Massenet 





Authorized  Translator  of 

H.  S.  H.  the  Prince  of  Monaco's  Autobiography: 
La  Carriere  fun  Navigateur 



Copyright,  1919, 









"Chere  amie,  gardez  aussi  sa  religion,  ft  qu'elle  vous  conduise, 
ferme  et  courageuse,  an  milieu  des  cahots  de  la  vie,  jusquau  paradis 
des  arts" 


I  Have  been  often  asked  whether  I  put  together 
the  recollections  of  my  life  from  notes  jotted 
down  from  day  to  day.  To  tell  the  truth  I  did, 
and  this  is  how  I  began  the  habit  of  doing  so  reg- 

My  mother — a  model  wife  and  mother,  who 
taught  me  the  difference  between  right  and  wrong 
« — said  to  me  on  my  tenth  birthday: 

"Here  is  a  diary."  (It  was  one  of  those  long- 
shaped  diaries  which  one  found  in  those  days  at 
the  little  Bon  Marche,  not  the  immense  enterprise 
we  know  now.)  "And,"  she  added,  "every 
night  before  you  go  to  bed,  you  must  write  down 
on  the  pages  of  this  memento  what  you  have  seen, 
said,  or  done  during  the  day.  If  you  have  said 
or  done  anything  which  you  realize  is  wrong,  you 
must  confess  it  in  writing  in  these  pages.  Per- 
haps it  will  make  you  hesitate  to  do  wrong  dur- 
ing the  day." 

How  characteristic  of  an  unusual  woman,  a 
woman  of  upright  mind  and  honest  heart  this 


idea  was!  By  placing  the  matter  of  conscience 
among  the  first  of  her  son's  duties,  she  made  Con- 
science the  very  basis  of  her  methods  of  teaching. 

Once  when  I  was  alone,  in  search  of  some  dis- 
traction I  amused  myself  by  foraging  in  the  cup- 
boards where  I  found  some  squares  of  chocolate. 
I  broke  off  a  square  and  munched  it.  I  have  said 
somewhere  that  I  am  greedy.  I  don't  deny  it. 
Here's  another  proof. 

When  evening  came  and  I  had  to  write  the  ac- 
count of  my  day,  I  admit  that  I  hesitated  a  mo- 
ment about  mentioning  that  delicious  square  of 
chocolate.  But  my  conscience  put  to  the  test  in 
this  way  conquered,  and  I  bravely  recorded  my 
dereliction  in  the  diary. 

The  thought  that  my  mother  would  read  about 
my  misdeed  made  me  rather  shamefaced.  She 
came  in  at  that  very  moment  and  saw  my  con- 
fusion; but  directly  she  knew  the  cause  she 
clasped  me  in  her  arms  and  said: 

"You  have  acted  like  an  honest  man  and  I  for- 
give you.  All  the  same  that  is  no  reason  why 
you  should  ever  again  eat  chocolate  on  the  sly!" 

Later  on,  when  I  munched  other  and  better 
chocolate,  I  always  obtained  permission. 


Thus  it  came  about  that  from  day  to  day  I  have 
always  made  notes  of  my  recollections  be  they 
good  or  bad,  gay  or  sad,  happy  or  not,  and  kept 
them  so  that  I  might  have  them  constantly  in 









V  THE  VILLA  MEDICI  (CONTINUED)     ...     37 

VI  THE  VILLA  MEDICI  (CONTINUED)     ...    43 








XIV  A  FIRST  PERFORMANCE  AT  BRUSSELS  .     .     .  123 




XIX  A  NEW  LIFE                              ....  186 



XX  MILAN — LONDON — BAYREUTH      ....  199 




XXIII  IN  THE  MIDST  OF  THE  MIDDLE  AGES      .     .  231 

XXIV  FROM  Cherubin  TO  Therese 242 

XXV    SPEAKING  OF  1793 254 

XXVI  FROM  Ariane  TO  Don  Quichotte  ....  267 

XXVII  A  SOIREE    ..........  278 


XXIX  THOUGHTS  AFTER  DEATH                      .     .  302 


The  Master,  Jules  Massenet       .          .          .  Frontispiece 

Massenet  at  Egreville         ......        44 

One  of  the  last  portraits  of  Massenet  .          .          .68 

Mme.  Pauline  Viardot        ......        84 

Titta  Ruffo,  Caruso  and  Chaliapine      .          .          .          .110 

The  Forum  from  the  First  Act  of  Roma  (See  page  SOO)      154 
Posthumia  (Roma)  (Seepage  297)       .          .          .          .170 

Lucy  Arbell 212 

Persephone  in  Ariane          ......      244 

Queen  Amahelly  (Bacchus)          .....      268 

Dulcinee  (Dora  Quichotte) 282 

Facsimile  of  Massenet's  Reply  to  an  Invitation  to 

Visit  America 296 





Were  I  to  live  a  thousand  years — which  is 
hardly  likely — I  should  never  forget  that  fateful 
day,  February  24,  1848,  when  I  was  just  six 
years  old.  Not  so  much  because  it  coincided 
with  the  fall  of  the  Monarchy  of  July,  as  that  it 
marked  the  first  steps  of  my  musical  career — a 
career  which,  even  yet,  I  am  not  sure  was  my  real 
destiny,  so  great  is  my  love  for  the  exact  sciences ! 

At  that  time  I  lived  with  my  parents  in  the 
Rue  de  Beaune  in  an  apartment  overlooking  the 
great  gardens.  The  day  promised  to  be  fine,  but 
it  was  very  cold. 

We  were  at  luncheon  when  the  waitress  rushed 
into  the  room  like  a  maniac.  "Aux  armes,  citoy- 
ens!"  she  yelled,  throwing  rather  than  placing 
the  plates  on  the  table. 

I  was  too  young  to  understand  what  was  going 
on  in  the  streets.  All  I  can  remember  is  that 



riots  broke  out  and  that  the  Revolution  smashed 
the  throne  of  the  most  debonair  of  kings.  The 
feelings  which  stirred  my  father  were  entirely  dif- 
ferent from  those  which  disturbed  my  mother's 
already  distracted  soul.  My  father  had  been  an 
officer  under  Napoleon  Bonaparte  and  a  friend 
of  Marshal  Soult,  Duke  of  Dalmatia.  He  was  all 
for  the  Emperor,  and  the  atmosphere  of  battles 
suited  his  temperament.  My  mother,  on  the 
other  hand,  had  experienced  the  sorrows  of  the 
first  great  revolution,  which  dragged  Louis  XVI 
and  Marie  Antoinette  from  their  throne,  and 
thrilled  with  worship  for  the  Bourbons. 

The  memory  of  that  exciting  meal  remained 
the  more  deeply  fixed  in  my  mind  because  on  the 
morning  of  that  historic  day,  by  the  light  of  tal- 
low candles  (wax  candles  were  only  for  the  rich) 
my  mother  for  the  first  time  placed  my  fingers 
on  the  piano. 

In  order  best  to  introduce  me  to  the  knowledge 
of  this  instrument,  my  mother — she  was  my 
music  teacher — stretched  along  the  keyboard  a 
strip  of  paper  upon  which  she  wrote  the  notes 
corresponding  to  each  of  the  black  and  white 
keys,  with  their  position  on  the  five  lines.  It  was 
most  ingenious;  no  mistake  was  possible. 



My  progress  on  the  piano  was  so  pronounced 
that  three  years  later,  in  October,  1851,  my  pa- 
rents thought  I  ought  to  apply  at  the  Conserva- 
toire for  the  entrance  examination  to  the  piano 

One  morning  that  month  we  went  to  the  Rue 
de  Faubourg-Poissonniere.  The  Conservatoire 
National  de  Musique  was  there  then,  and  it  re- 
mained there  until  it  was  moved  to  the  Rue  de 
Madrid.  The  large  room  we  entered — like  all 
the  rest  in  the  place  at  that  time — had  walls 
painted  a  bluish  gray,  spotted  with  black.  A 
few  old  benches  were  the  only  furniture  in  this 

M.  Ferriere,  a  harsh,  severe  looking  man — he 
was  one  of  the  upper  employees — came  out  to 
call  the  candidates  by  flinging  their  names  into 
the  crowd  of  relatives  and  friends  that  accom- 
panied them.  It  was  like  summoning  the  con- 
demned to  execution.  Then  he  gave  each  can- 
didate the  number  of  his  turn  before  the  jury 
which  had  already  assembled  in  the  rooms  where 
the  sessions  were  held. 

This  room  was  intended  for  examinations  and 
was  a  sort  of  small  theater  with  a  row  of  boxes  and 
a  circular  gallery  in  the  Consulate  style.  I  con- 



fess  that  I  have  never  entered  that  room  without 
feeling  emotion.  I  have  always  fancied  that  I 
saw,  seated  opposite  in  a  first-tier  box,  as  in  a 
black  hole,  Bonaparte,  the  First  Consul,  and  Jos- 
ephine, the  sweet  companion  of  his  early  years. 
He  with  his  forceful,  handsome  face ;  she  with  her 
kind  and  gentle  glances,  for  both  used  to  come  to 
such  occasions.  By  her  visits  to  this  sanctuary 
dedicated  to  Art  and  by  bringing  him,  so  preoccu- 
pied with  many  cares,  good  and  noble  Josephine 
seemed  to  wish  to  soften  his  thoughts  and  to 
make  them  less  stern  by  contact  with  the  youth 
who  some  day  perforce  would  not  escape  the  hor- 
rors of  war. 

From  the  time  of  Sarette,  the  first  director,  un- 
til recently,  all  the  examinations  for  classes  in  the 
institution,  both  tragedy  and  comedy,  were  held 
in  this  same  small  hall,  but  it  should  not  be  con- 
fused with  the  hall  so  well  known  as  the  Salle  de 
la  Societe  des  Concerts  du  Conservatoire. 

The  organ  class  was  also  held  there  several 
times  a  week  for  at  the  back,  hidden  behind  a 
large  curtain,  was  a  great  organ  with  two  key- 
boards. Beside  that  old,  worn,  squeaky  instru- 
ment was  the  fateful  door  through  which  the  pu- 
pils came  on  to  the  platform  that  formed  the 



small  stage.  Again,  this  same  small  hall,  for 
many  a  year,  was  the  judgment  seat  for  the  award 
of  prizes  for  musical  composition  known  as  the 
Prix  de  Rome. 

But  to  return  to  the  morning  of  October  9, 
1851.  When  all  the  youngsters  had  been  in- 
formed of  the  order  in  which  we  must  take  our 
examinations,  we  went  into  an  adjoining  room 
which  led  into  the  hall  through  the  "fateful" 
door,  and  which  was  only  a  sort  of  dusty,  disor- 
dered garret. 

The  jury  whose  verdict  we  had  to  face  was 
composed  of  Halevy,  Carafa,  Ambroise  Thomas, 
several  professors  of  the  school,  and  the  director, 
who  was  also  the  president  of  the  Conservatoire, 
Monsieur  Auber.  We  rarely  said  just  Auber 
when  we  spoke  of  this  French  master,  the  most 
eminent  and  prolific  of  all  who  made  the  opera 
and  opera-comique  of  that  time  famous. 

At  this  time  Monsieur  Auber  was  sixty-five. 
He  was  universally  respected  and  everyone  at  the 
Conservatoire  adored  him.  I  shall  always  re- 
member his  pleasing,  unusually  bright  black 
eyes,  which  remained  the  same  until  his  death  in 
May,  1871. 

May,  1871 !  We  were  then  in  open  insurrec- 


> .. 

tion,  almost  in  the  last  throes  of  the  Commune 
.  .  .  and  Monsieur  Auber,  still  faithful  to  his 
beloved  boulevard  near  the  Passage  de  1'Opera — 
his  favorite  walk — met  a  friend  also  in  despair 
over  the  terrible  days  we  were  passing  through, 
and  said  to  him,  in  an  accent  of  utter  weariness, 

"Ah!  I  have  lived  too  long!"  Then  he 
added,  with  a  slight  smile,  "One  should  never 
abuse  anything." 

In  1851 — the  date  when  I  became  acquainted 
with  Monsieur  Auber — he  had  already  lived  a 
long  time  in  his  old  mansion  in  the  Rue  St. 
George,  where  I  remember  having  been  received 
soon  after  seven  in  the  morning,  the  master's 
work  was  finished  by  that  time,  the  hour  at  which 
he  gave  himself  to  the  calls  he  welcomed  so  sim- 

Then  he  went  to  the  Conservatoire  in  a  tilbury 
which  he  ordinarily  drove  himself.  At  sight 
of  him  one  was  instantly  reminded  of  the  opera 
La  Muette  de  Portici,  which  had  exceptional 
good  luck,  and  which  was  the  most  lasting  success 
before  Robert  le  Diable  made  its  appearance  at 
the  Opera.  To  speak  of  La  Muette  de  Portici  is 
to  be  vividly  reminded  of  the  magical  effect  which 
the  duet  in  the  second  act,  Amour  sacre  de  la 



patrie,  produced  on  the  patriots  in  the  audience 
when  it  was  produced  at  the  Theatre  de  la  Mon- 
naie  at  Brussels.  In  very  truth  it  gave  the  signal 
for  the  revolution  which  broke  out  in  Belgium  in 
1830  and  which  brought  about  the  independence 
of  our  neighbors  on  the  north.  The  whole  audi- 
ence was  wild  with  excitement,  and  sang  the 
heroic  strain  with  the  artists,  repeating  it  again 
and  again  without  stopping.  What  master  can 
boast  of  a  success  like  that  in  his  own  career? 

When  my  name  was  called,  all  of  a  tremble,  I 
made  my  appearance  on  the  stage.  I  was  only 
nine  years  old  and  I  had  to  play  the  finale  of  Bee- 
thoven's Sonata,  Opus  29.  What  ambition ! 

They  stopped  me  in  the  usual  way  after  I  had 
played  two  or  three  pages.  I  was  utterly  embar- 
rassed as  I  heard  Monsieur  Auber's  voice  calling 
me  before  the  jury.  To  get  down  from  the  stage, 
I  had  to  descend  two  or  three  steps.  I  paid  no 
attention  to  them  and  would  have  gone  head  first 
if  Monsieur  Auber  had  not  kindly  called  out, 
"Take  care,  my  little  man."  Then  he  immedi- 
ately asked  me  where  I  had  studied  so  well. 
After  replying  with  some  pride  that  my  mother 
had  been  my  only  teacher,  I  went  out,  absolutely 



bewildered,  almost  at  a  run,  but  entirely  happy. 
He  had  spoken  to  me ! 

Next  morning  my  mother  received  the  official 
notice.  I  was  a  pupil  at  the  Conservatoire. 

At  this  time  there  were  two  teachers  of  the 
piano  at  the  great  school — Mamontel  and  Laur- 
ent. There  were  no  preparatory  classes.  I  was 
assigned  to  Laurent's  class,  and  I  remained  there 
two  years  while  I  continued  my  classical  studies 
at  college.  At  the  same  time  I  took  sol-fa  lessons 
from  M.  Savard  who  was  excellent. 

Professor  Laurent  had  been  Premier  Prix  de 
piano  under  Louis  XVIII.  Then  he  was  a  cav- 
alry officer,  but  left  the  army  to  become  a  profes- 
sor in  the  Royal  Conservatoire  of  Music.  He 
was  goodness  itself,  realizing  the  ideal  of  that 
quality  in  the  fullest  sense  of  the  word.  He 
placed  entire  confidence  in  me. 

M.  Savard  was  an  extraordinarily  erudite  man. 
He  was  the  father  of  one  of  my  pupils,  a  Grand 
Prix  de  Rome,  now  the  director  of  the  Conserva- 
toire at  Lyons.  (What  a  number  of  my  old  pu- 
pils are  or  have  been  directors  of  conservatoires ! ) 
His  heart  was  as  large  as  his  learning  was  exten- 
sive. It  is  pleasant  to  recall  that  when  I  wanted 
to  work  at  counterpoint,  before  I  entered  the  class 



in  fugue  and  composition — Ambroise  Thomas 
was  the  professor — M.  Savard  was  quite  willing 
to  give  me  lessons.  I  went  to  his  house  to  take 
them,  and  every  evening  I  went  down  from  Mont- 
martre  where  I  lived  to  Number  13,  Rue  de  la 
Vielle-Estrpade,  behind  the  Pantheon. 

What  wonderful  lessons  I  had  from  that  sim- 
ple, learned  man!  How  courageous  I  was  as  I 
walked  the  long  way  I  had  to  go  to  his  house  from 
which  I  returned  each  evening  about  ten  o'clock 
full  of  the  wise  and  learned  advice  he  had  given 

As  I  said,  I  made  the  trip  on  foot.  I  did  not 
even  ride  on  the  top  of  an  omnibus  in  order  to  set 
aside  sou  by  sou  the  price  I  would  have  to  pay  for 
my  lessons.  I  had  to  follow  this  system;  the 
shade  of  Descartes  would  have  congratulated  me. 

But  note  the  delicacy  of  that  charitable- 
hearted  man.  When  the  day  came  for  him  to 
take  what  I  owed  him,  M.  Savard  told  me  that  he 
had  some  work  for  me — the  transcription  for  a 
full  orchestra  of  the  military  band  accompani- 
ment U  Adolphe  Adam's  mass,  and  he  added 
that  the  work  would  net  me  three  hundred 
francs ! !  .  .  . 

His  purpose  was  obvious,  but  I  did  not  see  it. 


It  was  not  till  long  afterwards  that  I  understood 
that  M.  Savard  had  thought  of  this  way  of  not  ask- 
ing me  for  money — by  making  me  think  that  the 
three  hundred  francs  represented  the  fee  for  his 
lessons;  that,  to  use  a  fashionable  phrase,  they 
"compensated"  him. 

After  all  the  years  which  have  gone  since  he 
was  no  more,  my  heart  still  says  to  that  master, 
to  that  charming,  admirable  soul,  "Thank  you!" 




When  I  took  my  seat  on  the  benches  of  the 
Conservatoire,  I  was  rather  delicate  and  not  very 
tall.  This  was  the  excuse  for  the  drawing  which 
the  celebrated  caricaturist  Cham  made  of  me. 
He  was  a  great  friend  of  the  family  and  often 
came  to  spend  the  evening  with  my  parents. 
They  had  many  talks  which  the  brilliant  crafts- 
man enlivened  with  his  sprightly  and  witty  en- 
thusiasms, seated  around  the  family  table  lighted 
by  the  dim  light  of  an  oil  lamp.  (Kerosene  was 
scarcely  known  and  electricity  had  not  come  into 
use  for  lighting.) 

We  used  to  drink  a  sweet  syrup  on  such  occa- 
sions, for  this  was  before  a  cup  of  tea  was  the 
fashionable  drink. 

I  was  often  asked  to  play,  so  that  Cham  had 
every  opportunity  to  draw  my  profile.  He  rep- 
resented me  as  seated  on  five  or  six  folios  of  music 
with  my  hands  in  the  air,  scarcely  reaching  the 



keyboard.  This  was  obviously  an  exaggeration, 
but  there  was  enough  truth  in  it  to  show  that  it 
was  founded  on  fact. 

I  often  went  with  Cham  to  see  a  lovely  and  lov- 
able friend  of  his  in  the  Rue  Tarranne.  Natu- 
rally I  was  asked  to  "play  the  piano."  I  remem- 
ber that  on  one  evening  when  I  was  asked  to  play 
I  had  just  received  third  place  in  a  prize  competi- 
tion both  on  the  piano  and  in  solfeggio,  and  to 
prove  it  I  had  two  heavy  bronze  medals  inscribed 
"Conservatoire  imperial  de  musique  et  de  decla- 
mation." It  is  true  that  they  listened  to  me  no 
better  on  this  account,  but  I  was  affected  by  the 
honor  nevertheless. 

Some  years  later,  in  the  natural  course  of 
events,  I  learned  that  Cham  had  secretly  married 
the  beautiful  lady  of  the  Rue  Tarranne.  As  he 
was  somewhat  embarrassed  by  the  marriage,  he 
did  not  send  announcement  cards  to  his  friends, 
much  to  their  surprise.  When  they  asked  him 
about  it,  he  replied,  wittily, 

"Of  course  I  sent  announcements.  .  .  .  They 
were  anonymous." 

In  spite  of  my  mother's  extreme  watchfulness, 
I  escaped  from  home  one  evening.  I  knew  that 
they  were  giving  Berlioz's  UEnfance  du  Christ 



at  the  Opera-Comique  and  that  the  great  com- 
poser was  to  conduct.  I  could  not  pay  my  way 
in,  but  I  had  an  irresistible  desire  to  hear  the 
work,  especially  as  it  was  a  creation  of  Berlioz's, 
who  aroused  the  enthusiasm  of  all  our  young  peo- 
ple. So  I  asked  my  companions  who  sang  in 
the  children's  chorus  to  take  me  in  and  let  me 
hide  among  them.  I  must  confess  that  I  secretly 
wanted  to  get  behind  the  scenes  of  a  theater. 

As  might  be  imagined,  my  escapade  rather 
upset  my  mother.  She  waited  up  for  me  until 
after  midnight  .  .  .  she  thought  I  was  lost  in 
this  vast  Paris. 

Needless  to  say  that,  when  I  came  in  abashed 
and  shamefaced,  I  was  well  scolded.  I  bore  up 
under  two  storms  of  tears — if  it  is  true  that  a 
woman's  wrath,  like  the  rain  in  the  forests,  falls 
twice;  still,  a  mother's  heart  cannot  bear  anger 
forever — and  I  went  to  bed  made  easy  on  that 
scare.  Nevertheless  I  could  not  sleep.  I  re- 
called all  the  beauties  of  the  work  I  had  just 
heard  and  before  my  mind's  eye  I  saw  again  the 
tall  and  impressive  figure  of  Berlioz  as  he  directed 
the  superb  performance  in  masterly  style. 

My  life  ran  on  happily  and  industriously,  but 
this  did  not  last.  The  doctors  ordered  my 



father  to  leave  Paris,  as  the  climate  did  not  agree 
with  him,  and  to  take  treatment  at  Aix-les-Bains 
in  Savoy.  My  mother  and  father  followed  this 
advice  and  went  to  Chambery  taking  me  with 
them.  My  artistic  career  was  interrupted,  but 
there  was  nothing  else  for  me  to  do. 

I  stayed  at  Chambery  for  two  long  years ;  still 
the  life  there  was  not  monotonous.  I  passed  the 
time  in  classical  studies,  alternating  with  diligent 
work  on  scales  and  arpeggios,  sixths  and  thirds, 
as  if  I  were  going  to  be  a  fiery  pianist.  I  wore 
my  hair  ridiculously  long,  as  was  the  style  with 
every  virtuoso,  and  this  touch  of  resemblance 
harmonized  with  my  dreams.  It  seemed  to  me 
that  wild  locks  of  hair  were  the  complement  of 

Between  times  I  took  long  rambles  through  the 
delightful  country  of  Savoy  which  was  still  ruled 
by  the  King  of  Piemont;  sometimes  I  went  to  the 
Dent  de  Nicolet,  sometimes  as  far  as  Les  Charm- 
ettes,  that  picturesque  dwelling  made  famous  by 
Jean  Jacques  Rousseau's  stay  there. 

During  my  enforced  rustication  I  found,  by 
sheer  accident,  some  of  Schumann's  works  which 
were  then  little  known  in  France  and  still  less  in 
Piemont.  I  shall  always  remember  that  every* 



where  I  went  I  did  my  share  by  playing  a  few 
pieces  on  the  piano.  I  sometimes  played  that 
exquisite  thing  entitled  Au  Soir  and  that  brought 
me  one  day  this  singular  invitation,  "Come  and 
amuse  us  with  your  Schumann  with  its  detestable 
false  notes."  It  is  unnecessary  to  repeat  my 
childish  outburst  at  these  words.  What  would 
the  good  old  people  of  Savoy  say  if  they  could 
hear  the  music  of  to-day? 

But  the  months  went  on,  and  on,  and  on  .  .  < 
until  one  morning,  before  the  first  signs  of  day- 
break had  come  over  the  mountains,  I  escaped 
from  the  paternal  homestead  and  started  for 
Paris  without  a  sou  or  even  a  change  of  clothes. 
For  Paris,  the  city  with  every  artistic  attraction, 
where  I  should  see  again  my  dear  Conservatoire, 
my  masters,  and  the  "behind  the  scenes,"  for  the 
memory  of  them  was  still  with  me. 

I  knew  that  in  Paris  I  should  find  my  good 
older  sister,  who,  in  spite  of  her  modest  means, 
welcomed  me  as  though  I  were  her  own  child 
and  offered  me  board  and  lodging;  a  very  simple 
lodging  and  a  very  frugal  table,  but  made  so 
delightful  by  the  magic  of  greatest  kindliness 
that  I  felt  exactly  as  though  I  were  in  my  own 



Imperceptibly  my  mother  forgave  me  for  run- 
ning away  to  Paris. 

What  a  good  devoted  creature  my  sister  was! 
Alas !  she  died  January  13, 1905,  just  as  she  was 
glorying  in  attending  the  five  hundredth  perform- 
ance of  Manon,  which  took  place  the  very  evening 
of  her  death.  Nothing  can  express  the  sorrow  I 

In  the  space  of  two  years  I  had  made  up  for 
the  time  I  had  lost  in  Savoy  and  I  had  won  a 
prize.  I  was  awarded  a  first  prize  on  the  piano, 
as  well  as  one  in  counterpoint  and  fugue,  on  July 
26, 1859. 

I  had  to  compete  with  ten  of  my  fellow  stu- 
dents and  by  chance  my  name  was  number  eleven 
in  the  order.  All  the  contestants  were  shut  up 
in  the  foyer  of  the  concert  hall  of  the  Conserva- 
toire to  wait  until  their  names  were  called. 

For  a  moment  Number  Eleven  found  himself 
alone  in  the  foyer.  While  waiting  for  my  turn, 
I  studied  respectfully  the  portrait  of  Habeneck, 
the  founder  and  the  first  conductor  of  the  orches- 
tra of  the  Societe  des  Concerts.  A  red  handker- 
chief actually  blossomed  in  his  left  buttonhole. 
If  he  had  become  an  officer  of  the  Legion  of 



Honor  and  had  several  orders  to  accompany  that, 
he  certainly  would  have  worn,  not  a  rosette,  but 
a  rose. 

Then  I  was  called. 

The  test  piece  was  the  concerto  in  F  minor  by 
Ferdinand  Hiller.  At  the  time  it  was  pretended 
that  his  music  was  so  like  that  of  Niels  Gade  that 
they  would  think  it  was  Mendelssohn's. 

My  good  master  M.  Laurent  stayed  close  to 
the  piano.  When  I  had  finished — concerto  and 
sight  reading — he  threw  his  arms  about  me  with- 
out thought  of  the  public  which  filled  the  hall  and 
I  felt  my  face  grow  moist  from  his  dear  tears. 

Even  at  that  age,  I  was  apprehensive  about  suc- 
cess, and  during  my  whole  life  I  have  always  fled 
from  public  rehearsals  and  first  nights,  thinking 
it  better  to  learn  the  worst  ...  as  late  as  pos- 

I  raced  all  the  way  home,  running  like  a  gamin, 
but  I  found  no  one  there,  for  my  sister  had  gone 
to  the  prize  contest.  However  I  did  not  stay 
long,  for  I  finally  decided  to  go  back  to  the  Con- 
servatoire. I  was  so  excited  that  I  ran  all  the 
way.  At  the  corner  of  the  Rue  Sainte-Cecile  I 
met  my  boon  companion  Alphonse  Duvernoy, 
whose  after  career  as  a  teacher  and  composer  was 



most  successful,  and  I  fell  into  his  arms.  He 
told  me  what  I  might  have  known  already,  that 
Monsieur  Auber  had  announced  the  decision  for 
the  jury,  "Monsieur  Massenet  is  awarded  the  first 
prize  on  the  piano." 

One  of  the  jury  was  Henri  Ravina,  a  master 
who  was  one  of  the  dearest  friends  I  ever  had, 
and  my  thoughts  go  out  to  him  in  affectionate 

I  scarcely  touched  the  ground  in  getting  from 
the  Rue  Bergere  to  the  Rue  de  Bourgogne  where 
my  excellent  master  M.  Laurent  lived.  I  found 
my  old  professor  at  lunch  with  several  generals 
who  had  been  his  comrades  in  the  army. 

He  had  hardly  caught  sight  of  me  when  he 
held  out  two  volumes  to  me:  the  orchestral 
score  of  Le  Nozze  di  Figaro,  dramma  giocoso 
in  quarti  atti.  Messo  in  musica  dal  Signor  W . 

The  binding  bore  the  arms  of  Louis  XVIII  and 
the  following  superscription  in  gold  letters: 
Menus  plaisirs  du  Roi.  ficole  royale  de  mu- 
sique  et  de  declamation.  Concours  de  1822. 
Premier  prix  de  piano  decerne  a  M.  Laurent. 

My  honored  master  had  written  on  the  first 



"Thirty-seven  years  ago  I  won,  as  you  have 
done,  my  child,  the  prize  for  the  piano.  I  do 
not  think  that  there  is  any  more  pleasing  gift  I 
could  give  you  than  this  with  my  sincerest  friend- 
ship. Go  on  as  you  have  begun  and  you  will  be 
a  great  artist. 

"This  is  the  opinion  of  the  jury  which  to-day 
awarded  you  this  fine  reward. 

"Your  old  friend  and  professor, 


It  was  indeed  a  fine  thing  for  an  honored  pro- 
fessor to  speak  like  this  to  a  youth  who  had 
hardly  begun  his  career. 




So  I  had  won  the  first  prize  on  the  piano.     I 
was  doubtless  as  fortunate  as  I  was  proud,  but 
it  was  out  of  the  question  for  me  to  live  on  the 
memory  of  this  distinction.     The  necessities  of 
life  were   pressing,   inexorable,   and   they   de- 
manded something  more  real  and  above  all  more 
practicable.     I  really  could  not  go  on  accepting 
my  dear  sister's  hospitality  without  contributing 
my  personal  expenses.     So  to  ease  the  situation 
I  gave  lessons  in  solfeggio  and  on  the  piano  in  a 
poor  little  school  in  the  neighborhood.     The  re- 
turns were  small,  but  the  labor  was  great.     Thus 
I  drew  out  a  precarious  and  often  difficult  exist- 
ence.    I  was  offered  the  post  of  pianist  in  one  of 
the  large  cafes  in  Belleville;  it  was  the  first  cafe 
to  provide  music,  a  scheme  invented  to  hold  the 
customers,  if  not  to  distract  them.     The  place 
paid  me  thirty  francs  a  month ! 

Quantum  mutatus.  .  .  .  Like  the  poet  I  may 
say,  "What  changes  since  that  time?"  To-day 
even  the  young  pupils  have  only  to  enter  a  com- 



petition  to  get  their  pictures  in  the  papers  and  at 
the  very  outset  of  their  careers  they  are  anointed 
great  men.  All  this  is  accompanied  by  Baccha- 
nalian lines  and  they  are  fortunate  if  in  their  ex- 
alted triumph  they  do  not  add  the  word  "colos- 
sal." That  is  glory;  deification  in  all  its  mod- 
esty. In  1859  we  were  not  glorified  in  any  such 

But  Providence — some  called  it  Destiny — 
watched  over  me. 

A  friend,  who  to  my  great  joy  is  still  living, 
got  me  better  lessons.  He  was  not  like  so  many 
friends  I  met  later,  who  are  ever  in  need  of  one's 
assistance ;  those  who  slink  away  when  you  want 
to  be  comforted  in  poverty;  the  friends  who  are 
always  pretending  that  they  defended  you  last 
night  against  malevolent  attacks  in  order  to  show 
you  their  fine  opinions,  but  at  the  same  time  tor- 
turing you  by  repeating  the  wounding  words  di- 
rected at  you.  I  must  add,  however,  that  I  have 
had  truly  genuine  friendships,  as  I  have  found  in 
my  hours  of  weariness  and  discouragement. 

The  Theatre-Lyrique  was  then  on  the  Boule- 
vard du  Temple  and  it  gave  me  a  place  in  its  or- 
chestra as  kettle-drummer.  Then,  good  Father 
Strauss,  the  orchestra  leader  at  the  Opera  balls, 



let  me  play  the  bass  drum,  the  kettle-drums,  the 
tam-tam,  and  all  the  rest  of  the  resonant  instru- 
ments. It  was  dreadfully  tiring  to  sit  up  every 
Saturday  from  midnight  until  six  in  the  morning, 
but  all  told  I  managed  to  make  eighty  francs  a 
month.  I  felt  as  rich  as  a  banker  and  as  happy 
as  a  cobbler. 

The  Theatre-Lyrique  was  founded  by  the  elder 
Alexander  Dumas  as  the  Theatre-Historique,  and 
was  established  by  Adolphe  Adam. 

I  was  living  at  the  time  at  No.  5,  Rue  de  Men- 
ilmontant,  in  a  huge  building,  almost  a  city  in 
itself.  My  neighbors  on  the  floor,  separated 
only  by  a  narrow  partition,  were  the  clowns — 
both  men  and  women — of  the  Cirque  Napoleon 
which  was  near  our  house. 

From  my  attic  window  I  was  able  to  enjoy — 
for  nothing  of  course — whiffs  from  the  orchestra 
which  escaped  from  the  popular  concerts  that 
Pasdeloup  conducted  in  the  circus  every  Sunday. 
This  happened  whenever  the  audience  packed  in 
the  overheated  hall  shouted  loudly  for  air  and 
they  opened  the  casement  windows  on  the  third 
floor  to  satisfy  them. 

From  my  perch — that  is  the  only  thing  to  call 
it — I  applauded  with  feverish  joy  the  overture  of 



Tannhauser,  the  Symphonie  Fantastique,  in 
short  the  music  of  my  gods :  Wagner  and  Berlioz. 

Every  evening  at  six  o'clock — the  theater  be- 
gan very  early — I  went  by  the  way  of  the  Rue  des 
Fosses-du-Temple,  near  my  house,  to  the  stage 
door  of  the  Theatre-Lyrique.  In  those  days  the 
left  side  of  the  Boulevard  du  Temple  was  one 
unbroken  line  of  theaters.  Consequently  I  went 
along  the  back  of  the  Funambules,  the  Petit-La- 
zari,  the  Delassements-Comiques,  the  Cirque  Im- 
perial and  the  Gaite.  Those  who  did  not  know 
that  corner  of  Paris  in  1859  can  have  no  idea 
of  it. 

The  Rue  des  Fosses-du-Temple,  on  which  all 
the  stage  doors  opened,  was  a  sort  of  wonderland 
where  all  the  supers,  male  and  female,  from  all 
the  theaters  waited  in  great  crowds  on  the  dimly 
lighted  pavements.  The  atmosphere  was  full  of 
vermin  and  microbes.  Even  in  our  Theatre- 
Lyrique  the  musicians'  dressing  room  was  only 
an  old  stable  in  which  the  horses  used  in  his- 
torical plays  were  kept. 

Still,  my  delight  was  too  great  for  words  and  I 
felt  that  I  was  to  be  envied  as  I  sat  in  the  fine  or- 
chestra which  Deloffre  conducted.  Ah!  those 
rehearsals  of  Faust!  My  happiness  could  not 



be  expressed  when,  from  my  own  little  corner,  I 
could  leisurely  devour  with  my  eyes  our  great 
Gounod  who  managed  our  work  from  the  stage. 

Many  times  later  on  when  we  came  out,  side 
by  side,  from  the  sessions  of  the  Institute — 
Gounod  lived  in  the  Place  Malesherbes — we 
talked  over  the  time  when  Faust — now  past  its 
thousandth  performance — was  such  a  subject  for 
discussion  and  criticism  in  the  press,  while  the 
dear  public — which  is  rarely  deceived — ap- 
plauded it. 

Vox  Populi,  vox  Dei! 

I  also  remember  that  while  I  was  in  the  orches- 
tra I  assisted  at  the  performances  of  Reyer's  La 
Statue,  a  superb  score  and  a  tremendous  success. 

I  can  still  see  Reyer  in  the  wings  during  the 
performances  eluding  the  firemen  and  smoking 
interminable  cigars.  It  was  a  habit  he  could  not 
give  up.  One  day  I  heard  him  tell  about  being 
in  Abbe  Liszt's  room  in  Rome.  The  walls  were 
covered  with  religious  pictures — Christ,  the  Vir- 
gin, and  the  Saints — and  he  blew  out  a  cloud  of 
smoke  which  filled  the  room.  In  reply  to  his 
witty  excuses  about  incommoding  the  "august 
persons,"  he  drew  the  following  reply  from  the 



great  abbe.     "No,"  said  Liszt,  "it  is  always  in- 

For  six  months,  under  the  same  conditions  of 
work,  I  substituted  for  one  of  my  fellows  in  the 
orchestra  at  the  Theatre-Italien. 

As  I  had  heard  the  admirable  Mme.  Miolan- 
Carvalho  in  Faust — excellent  singing — I  now 
heard  the  tragediennes  like  Penco  and  Frezzolini 
and  such  men  as  Mario,  Graziani,  Delle  Sedie, 
and  the  buffo  Zucchini. 

The  last  is  no  longer  alive  and  our  great  Lu- 
cien  Fugere  of  the  Opera-Comique  of  to-day  re- 
minds me  of  him  almost  exactly.  There  is  the 
same  powerful  voice  and  the  same  perfect  artistic 

But  the  time  for  the  competition  of  the  Insti- 
tute approached.  During  our  residence  en  loge 
at  the  Institute  we  had  to  pay  for  our  meals  for 
twenty-five  days  and  also  the  rent  of  a  piano.  I 
got  out  of  that  difficulty  as  best  I  could;  at  any 
rate  I  forestalled  it.  All  the  same  the  money  I  been  able  to  put  aside  was  insufficient  and 
acting  on  the  advice  of  a  friend  (giving  and  act- 
ing on  advice  are  two  entirely  different  things) 
I  went  to  a  pawnshop  and  pawned  my  watch  .  .  . 



a  gold  one.  It  had  adorned  my  fob  since  the 
morning  of  my  first  communion.  Alas !  it  must 
have  been  light  weight,  for  they  offered  me  only 
.  .  .  sixteen  francs ! ! !  This  odd  sum,  how- 
ever, enabled  me  to  pay  for  my  meals. 

But  the  charge  for  the  piano  was  so  exorbi- 
tant— twenty  francs! — that  I  couldn't  afford  it. 
I  did  without  it  much  more  easily,  for  I  have 
never  needed  its  help  in  composing. 

I  would  have  hardly  imagined  that  my  neigh- 
bors would  have  bothered  me  so  by  their  pound- 
ing on  their  pianos  and  by  their  singing  at  the 
top  of  their  lungs.  It  was  impossible  to  divert 
my  thoughts  or  to  escape  their  noise,  as  I  had 
no  piano,  and,  in  addition,  the  corridors  of  our 
garrets  were  unusually  reverberant. 

On  my  way  to  the  Saturday  sittings  of  the 
Academic  des  Beaux- Arts  I  often  cast  a  sad  glance 
at  the  grated  window  of  my  cell;  it  can  be  seen 
from  the  Cour  Mazarine  to  the  right  in  a  recess. 
Yes,  my  glance  is  sad,  for  I  left  behind  those  old 
bars  the  dearest  and  most  affecting  recollections 
of  my  youth,  and  because  they  cause  me  to  reflect 
on  the  unhappy  times  in  my  long  life. 

In  the  trial  competition  in  1863  I  was  exam- 
ined first  and  I  kept  the  same  place  in  the  choral 



work.  The  first  test  was  in  the  large  hall  of  the 
£cole  des  Beaux- Arts  which  is  entered  from  the 
Quai  Malaquais. 

The  final  decision  was  made  the  next  day  in 
the  hall  used  for  the  regular  sittings  of  the  Acad- 
emic des  Beaux-Arts. 

My  interpreters  were  Mme.  Van  den  Heuvel- 
Duprez,  Roger  and  Bonnehee,  all  three  from  the 
Opera.  With  such  artists  I  had  to  triumph. 
And  that  is  what  happened ! 

I  went  in  first — there  were  six  competitors — 
and  as  at  that  time  one  could  not  listen  to  the 
work  of  the  other  candidates — I  went  wander- 
ing haphazard  down  to  the  Rue  Mazarine  .  .  . 
on  the  Pont  des  Arts  .  .  .  and,  finally,  in  the 
square  court  of  the  Louvre  where  I  sat  down  on 
one  of  the  iron  seats. 

I  heard  five  o'clock  strike.  I  was  very  anx- 
ious. "All  must  be  over  by  now,"  I  said  to  my- 
self. I  had  guessed  right,  for  suddenly  I  saw 
under  the  arch  three  people  chatting  together 
and  recognized  Berlioz,  Ambroise  Thomas  and 
Monsieur  Auber. 

Flight  was  impossible.  They  were  in  front 
of  me  almost  as  if  they  barred  my  escape. 

Ambroise  Thomas,  my  beloved  master,  came 


towards  me  and  said,  "Embrace  Berlioz,  you  owe 
him  a  great  deal  for  your  prize." 

"The  prize"  I  cried,  bewildered,  my  face  shin- 
ing with  joy.  "I  have  the  prize!!!"  I  was 
deeply  moved  and  I  embraced  Berlioz,  then  my 
master,  and  finally  Monsieur  Auber. 

Monsieur  Auber  comforted  me.  Did  I  need 
comforting?  Then  he  said  to  Berlioz  pointing 

"He'll  go  far,  the  young  rascal,  when  he's  had 
less  experience!" 




The  winners  of  the  Grand  Prix  de  Rome  for 
1863  in  painting,  sculpture,  architecture,  and 
engraving,  were  Layraud  and  Monchablon,  Bour- 
geois, Brune  and  Chaplain.  Custom  decreed — 
it  still  does — that  we  should  all  go  to  the  Villa 
Medici  together  and  should  visit  Italy.  What  a 
changed  and  ideal  life  mine  now  was !  The  Min- 
ister of  Finance  sent  me  six  hundred  francs  and 
a  passport  in  the  name  of  Napoleon  III,  signed 
by  Drouyns  de  Luys,  Minister  of  Foreign  Affairs. 

I  then  met  my  new  companions  and  we  went 
to  pay  the  formal  calls  on  the  members  of  the 
Institute  before  our  departure  for  the  Academic 
de  France  at  Rome. 

On  the  day  after  Christmas,  in  three  open  car- 
riages, we  started  to  pay  our  official  calls  which 
took  us  into  every  quarter  of  Paris  where  our 
patrons  lived. 

The  three  carriages,  crowded  with  young  men, 
real  rapins,  I  had  almost  said  gamins,  mad  with 



success  and  intoxicated  by  thoughts  of  the  future, 
made  a  veritable  scandal  in  the  streets. 

Nearly  all  the  gentlemen  of  the  Institute  sent 
out  word  that  they  were  not  at  home — to  avoid 
making  a  speech.  M.  Hirtoff,  the  famous  archi- 
tect, who  lived  in  the  Rue  Lamartine,  put  on  less 
airs  and  shouted  out  to  his  servant  from  his  bed- 
room, "Tell  them  I'm  not  in." 

I  recall  that  of  old  the  professors  accompanied 
their  pupils  as  far  as  the  starting  place  of  the 
diligences  in  the  Rue  Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. 
One  day  as  the  heavy  diligence  with  the  students 
packed  on  the  rear — the  cheapest  places  which 
exposed  them  to  all  the  dust  of  the  road — was 
about  to  start  on  the  long  journey  from  Paris  to 
Rome,  M.  Couder,  Louis  Philippe's  favorite 
painter,  was  heard  to  say  impressively  to  his  spe- 
cial pupil,  "Above  all  don't  forget  my  style." 
This  was  a  delightfully  nai've  remark,  but  it  was 
touching  nevertheless.  He  was  the  painter  of 
whom  the  king  said,  after  he  had  given  him  an 
order  for  the  museum  at  Versailles,  "M.  Couder 
pleases  me.  His  drawing  is  correct;  his  coloring 
satisfies,  and  he  is  not  dear." 

Oh,  the  good,  simple  times,  when  words  meant 
what  they  seemed  to  and  admiration  was  just 



without  that  deifying  bombast  that  is  so  readily 
heaped  on  one  to-day! 

I  broke  the  custom  and  went  on  alone  after 
making  arrangements  to  meet  my  comrades  on 
the  road  to  Genoa  where  I  would  overtake  them 
driving  an  enormous  coach  drawn  by  five  horses. 
My  plans  were  first  to  stop  at  Nice,  where  my 
father  was  buried,  and  then  to  go  to  embrace  my 
mother  who  was  living  at  Bordighera.  She  had 
a  modest  villa  in  a  pleasant  location  in  a  forest 
of  palms  overlooking  the  sea.  I  spent  New 
Year's  with  my  mother,  the  anniversary  of  my 
father's  death,  hours  filled  to  overflowing  with 
tenderness.  All  too  soon  I  had  to  leave  her,  for 
my  joyous  comrades  awaited  me  in  their  carriage 
on  the  road  of  the  Italian  La  Corniche.  My  tears 
turned  to  laughter.  Such  is  youth ! 

Our  first  stop  was  at  Loano  about  eight  o'clock 
in  the  evening. 

I  have  confessed  that  I  was  almost  gay  and 
this  is  true.  Nevertheless  I  was  a  prey  to  in- 
definite thoughts;  I  felt  myself  almost  a  man, 
henceforth  to  be  alone  in  life.  I  pondered  over 
such  thoughts,  too  reasonable  perhaps  for  my 
years,  while  Italy's  blossoming  mimosas,  lemon 
trees  and  myrtles  threw  around  me  their  sweet 



disturbing  odors.  What  a  pleasant  contrast  it 
was  for  me  who  until  then  had  only  known  the 
sour  smell  of  the  faubourgs  of  Paris,  the  trampled 
grass  of  their  fortifications,  and  the  perfume — I 
mean  perfume — of  my  beloved  wings  of  the 

We  spent  two  days  in  Genoa  visiting  the 
Campo-Santo,  the  city's  cemetery,  so  rich  in  the 
finest  marble  monuments,  reputed  to  be  the  most 
beautiful  in  Italy.  After  that  who  can  deny  that 
self-esteem  survives  after  death? 

Next  I  found  myself  one  morning  on  the  Place 
du  Dome  at  Milan  walking  with  my  companion 
Chaplain,  the  famous  engraver  of  medallions, 
and  later  my  confrere  at  the  Institute.  We 
shared  our  enthusiasms  before  the  marvellous 
cathedral  of  white  marble  dedicated  to  the  Vir- 
gin by  that  terrible  partisan  leader  Jean  Galeas 
Visconti  as  a  repentance  for  his  life.  "In  that 
epoch  of  faith  the  world  covered  itself  with  white 
robes,"  thus  spake  Bossuet  whose  weighty  elo- 
quence comes  back  to  me. 

We  were  completely  carried  away  by  Leonardo 
da  Vinci's  "Last  Supper."  We  found  it  in  a 
large  hall  which  the  Austrian  soldiers  had  used  as 
a  stable  and  they  had  cut  a  door — Horrors! 



Abomination  of  abominations! — in  the  central 
panel  of  the  picture. 

The  masterpiece  is  gradually  fading  away. 
In  time  it  will  have  entirely  disappeared,  but  it 
is  not  like  "La  Giaconda"  easier  to  carry  away 
than  the  wall  thirty  feet  high  on  which  it  is 

We  went  through  Verona  and  made  the  obliga- 
tory pilgrimage  to  the  tomh  of  Juliet,  the  be- 
loved of  Romeo.  That  excursion  satisfies  the 
inmost  feelings  of  every  young  man  in  love  with 
Love.  Then  Vienza,  Padua,  where,  while  I  was 
looking  at  Giotto's  paintings  on  the  story  of 
Christ,  I  had  an  intuition  that  Mary  Magdalene 
would  occupy  my  life  some  day,  and  then  Venice ! 

Venice !  One  might  have  told  me  that  I  still 
lived  although  I  would  not  have  believed  it,  so 
unreal  were  the  hours  I  passed  in  that  matchless 
city.  As  we  had  no  Baedeker — his  guide  was 
too  costly  for  us — it  was  only  through  a  sort  of 
divination  that  we  discovered  all  the  wonders  of 
Venice  without  directions. 

My  companions  admired  a  painting  by  Palma 
Vecchio  in  a  church  whose  name  they  did  not 
know.  How  was  I  to  find  it  among  the  ninety 
churches  in  Venice?  I  got  into  my  gondola 



alone  and  said  to  my  "barcaiollo"  that  I  was  go- 
ing to  Saint  Zacharie ;  but  I  did  not  find  the  pic- 
ture, a  Santa  Barbara,  so  I  had  him  take  me  to 
another  saint.  A  new  deception !  As  this  kept 
repeating  and  threatened  never  to  end,  my  gon- 
dolier laughingly  showed  me  another  church — 
All  Saints — and  said  to  me,  mockingly,  "Go  in 
there;  you'll  surely  find  yours." 

I  pass  over  Pisa  and  Florence  which  I  shall  de- 
scribe in  detail  later. 

When  we  came  near  the  Papal  territory,  we 
decided  to  add  a  picturesque  touch  to  our  journey 
and  instead  of  entering  Rome  in  the  conventional 
way  by  Ponte-Moll,  the  ancient  witness  of  the  de- 
feat of  Maxentius  and  the  glorification  of  Chris- 
tianity, we  took  a  steamer  from  Leghorn  to  Civ- 
itta  Vecchia.  It  was  the  first  sea  voyage  that  I 
went  through  .  .  .  almost  decently,  thanks  to 
some  oranges  which  I  kept  in  my  mouth  all  the 

At  last  we  reached  Rome  by  the  railroad  from 
Civitta  Vecchia  to  the  Eternal  City.  It  was  the 
pensionnaires'  dinner  hour  and  they  were  non- 
plussed at  seeing  us,  for  we  had  deprived  them 
of  a  holiday  in  going  to  meet  our  coach  on  the 
Flammian  Way.  Our  welcome  was  spontane- 



ous.  A  special  dinner  was  hastily  got  together 
and  this  started  the  jokes  practised  on  newcom- 
ers, who  were  called  "Les  Affreux  Nouveaux" 

As  a  musician  I  was  instructed  to  go  bell  in 
hand  to  call  dinner  through  the  numerous  walks 
of  the  Villa  Medici,  now  plunged  in  darkness. 
As  I  did  not  know  the  way,  I  fell  into  a  fountain. 
Naturally  the  bell  stopped  ringing  and  the  board- 
ers, who  were  listening  to  the  sound  and  re- 
joicing in  the  fun,  burst  into  hearty  laughter  at 
the  sudden  cessation  of  the  noise.  They  under- 
stood what  had  happened  and  came  to  fish  me 

I  had  paid  my  first  debt,  the  debt  of  entrance 
to  the  Villa  Medici.  Night  was  to  bring  other 

The  dining  room  of  the  pensionnaires,  which 
I  found  so  pleasant  the  next  day,  was  trans- 
formed into  a  den  of  bandits.  The  servants, 
who  ordinarily  wore  the  green  livery  of  the  Em- 
peror, were  dressed  as  monks  with  short  blunder- 
busses across  their  shoulders  and  with  pistols  in 
their  belts.  Their  false  noses  were  modeled  by 
a  sculptor  and  were  painted  red.  The  pine  table 
was  stained  with  wine  and  covered  with  dirt. 

Our  seniors  wore  proud  and  haughty  looks, 


but  this  did  not  prevent  them,  at  a  given  signal, 
from  telling  us  that  while  the  food  was  simple, 
all  lived  in  the  most  fraternal  harmony.  Sud- 
denly, after  a  discussion  of  art  which  was  carried 
on  facetiously,  there  was  a  hub-bub  and  amid 
frightful  shouts  all  the  plates  and  bottles  went 
flying  through  the  air. 

At  a  signal  from  one  of  the  supposed  monks 
there  was  instant  silence  and  we  heard  the  voice 
of  the  oldest  pensionnaire,  Henner,  saying 
gravely,  "Here  all  is  harmony." 

It  was  well  that  we  knew  we  were  the  butts  for 
jokes.  I  was  a  little  embarrassed.  I  did  not 
dare  to  move,  and  I  sat  with  my  head  down, 
staring  at  the  table,  where  I  read  the  name  of 
Herold,  the  author  of  the  Pre  aux  Clercs,  cut  with 
a  knife  when  he  was  a  pensionnaire  at  this  same 




As  I  had  foreseen  and  gathered  from  the  mean- 
ing looks  which  the  pensionnaires  exchanged, 
another  joke,  the  masterpiece  of  the  hazing,  was 
arranged  for  us.  We  had  hardly  left  the  table 
when  the  pensionnaires  wrapped  themselves  in 
the  huge  capes  that  were  fashionable  in  Rome 
at  the  time  and  obliged  us,  before  we  went  to 
rest  in  the  rooms  assigned  to  us,  to  take  a  con- 
stitutional (Was  it  really  necessary?)  to  the 
Forum,  the  ancient  Forum  which  all  our  mem- 
ories of  school  recalled  to  us. 

We  knew  nothing  of  Rome  by  night,  or  by 
day  for  that  matter,  but  we  walked  on  surrounded 
by  our  new  school  fellows  who  acted  as  guides. 
It  was  a  January  night  and  very  dark,  and  favor- 
able for  the  schemes  of  our  cicerones.  When 
we  got  near  the  Capitol,  we  could  scarcely  dis- 
tinguish the  outlines  of  the  temples  in  the  hol- 
lows of  the  famous  Campo  Vaccino.  Their  re- 
productions in  the  Louvre  are  still  one  of  the 
masterpieces  of  Claude  Lorrain. 




In  those  days,  under  the  rule  of  His  Holiness 

Pope  Pius  IX,  no  official  excavations  had  been 
begun  even  in  the  Forum.  The  famous  place 
was  only  a  heap  of  stones  and  shafts  of  columns 
buried  in  the  weeds  on  which  herds  of  goats 
browsed.  These  pretty  creatures  were  watched 
over  by  goatherds  in  large  hats  and  wrapped  in 
great  black  cloaks  with  green  linings,  the  or- 
dinary costume  of  the  peasant  of  the  Roman  cam- 
pagna.  They  were  armed  with  long  pikes  to 
drive  off  the  wild  cattle  which  splashed  about  in 
the  Ostian  marshes. 

Our  companions  made  us  cross  the  ruins  of 
the  basilica  of  Constantine.  We  could  just 
make  out  the  immense  coffered  vaults.  Our  ad- 
miration changed  to  fright  when  we  found  our- 
selves a  moment  later  in  a  place  entirely  sur- 
rounded by  walls  of  indescribably  colossal  pro- 
portions. In  the  middle  of  this  place  was  a 
large  cross  on  a  pedestal  formed  by  steps — a  sort 
of  Calvary.  When  I  reached  this  point,  I  could 
no  longer  see  my  companions  and  on  turning 
back  I  found  that  I  was  alone  in  the  middle  of 
the  gigantic  amphitheater  of  the  Colosseum  in  a 
silence  which  seemed  frightful  to  me. 

I  tried  to  find  a  way  which  would  lead  me  back 


to  the  streets  where  some  late  but  complacent 
passerby  might  direct  me  to  the  Villa  Medici. 
But  my  search  was  in  vain.  I  was  so  exasper- 
ated by  my  fruitless  attempts  that  I  fell  on  one  of 
the  steps  of  the  cross  overcome  by  weariness. 
I  cried  like  a  child.  It  was  quite  excusable,  for 
I  was  worn  out  with  exhaustion. 

Finally,  daylight  appeared.  Its  rays  showed 
me  that  I  had  gone  round  and  round  like  a  squir- 
rel in  a  cage  and  had  come  across  nothing  save 
the  stairways  to  the  upper  tiers.  When  one 
thinks  of  the  eighty  tiers  which  in  the  time  of 
Imperial  Rome  held  a  hundred  thousand  spec- 
tators, this  round  of  mine  could  easily  have  been 
endless  for  me.  But  the  sunrise  was  my  salva- 
tion. After  a  few  steps  I  was  happy  to  see  that, 
like  Little  Tom  Thumb  lost  in  the  woods,  I  was 
following  the  path  which  would  take  me  on  the 
right  road. 

I  reached  the  Villa  Medici  at  last  and  took  pos- 
session of  the  room  which  had  been  reserved  for 
me.  The  window  looked  out  on  the  Avenue  du 
Pincio;  my  horizon  was  the  whole  of  Rome  and 
ended  in  the  outlines  of  the  dome  of  St.  Peter's 
at  the  Vatican.  The  Director,  M.  Schnetz,  a 
member  of  the  Institute,  took  me  to  my  room. 



He  was  tall  and  he  had  willingly  wrapped  him- 
self in  a  capacious  dressing  gown  and  had  put 
on  a  Greek  cap  bedizened,  like  the  gown,  with 
magnificent  gold  tassels.  M.  Schnetz  was  the 
last  of  that  generation  of  great  painters  which 
had  a  special  reverence  for  the  country  about 
Rome.  His  studies  and  pictures  were  con- 
ceived in  the  midst  of  the  Sabine  brigands.  His 
strong,  determined  appearance  made  his  hosts  in 
his  adventurous  wanderings  respect  and  fear  him. 
He  was  a  perfect  father  to  all  the  children  of 
the  Academic  de  France  at  Rome. 

The  bell  for  luncheon  sounded.  This  time  it 
was  the  real  cook  who  rang  it  and  not  I  who  had 
been  so  kindly  given  the  duty  the  evening  before. 
The  dining  room  had  taken  on  its  comfortable 
every-day  appearance.  Our  companions  were 
positively  affectionate.  The  servants  were  no 
longer  the  pseudo  monks  we  had  seen  at  the  first 
meal.  I  learned  that  I  had  not  been  the  only 
one  to  be  hoaxed. 

The  Carnival  festivities  at  Rome  were  just  end- 
ing with  their  wild  bacchanalian  revelries. 
While  they  were  not  so  famous  as  those  of  Venice, 
they  had,  nevertheless,  just  as  much  dash  and 
life.  Their  setting  was  altogether  different — 



more  majestic  if  not  more  appropriate.  We  all 
participated  in  a  large  car  built  by  our  architects 
and  decorated  by  our  sculptors.  We  spent  the 
day  in  throwing  confetti  and  flowers  at  all  the 
lovely  Roman  girls,  who  replied  with  bewitching 
smiles  from  their  palace  balconies  on  the  Corso. 
Surely  when  Michelet  wrote  his  brilliant  and 
poetic  study  La  Femme,  the  sequel  to  his 
U Amour,  he  must  have  had  in  his  mind's  eye,  as 
we  saw  them  in  life,  these  types  of  rare,  sparkling 
and  fascinating  beauty. 

What  changes  have  taken  place  in  Rome  since 
such  careless  freedom  and  gaiety  were  the  usual 
thing!  The  superb  Italian  regiments  march  on 
this  same  Corso  to-day,  and  the  rows  of  shops  for 
the  most  part  belong  to  German  shopkeepers. 

Progress!     How  many  are  thy  blows! 

One  day  the  Director  told  us  that  Hippolyte 
Flandrin,  the  famous  leader  of  the  religious 
movement  in  Nineteenth  Century  Art,  had 
reached  Rome  the  night  before  and  wanted  to 
meet  the  students. 

I  little  thought  that  forty-six  years  later  I 
should  recall  this  visit  in  the  speech  I  would  de- 
liver as  president  of  the  Institute  and  the  Acad- 
emic des  Beaux  Arts. 



In  this  speech  I  said: 

"On  the  Pincio,  opposite  the  Academic  de 
France,  is  a  small  bubbling  fountain  shaped  like 
an  ancient  vase,  which,  beneath  a  bower  of  green 
oaks,  stands  out  against  the  horizon  with  its  fine 
lines.  There,  when  after  thirty-two  years  he 
returned  to  Rome  a  great  artist,  Hippolyte  Flan- 
drin,  before  he  entered  the  temple,  dipped  his 
fingers  as  in  a  holy  font  and  crossed  himself." 

The  sorrow  stricken  arts  to  which  he  had  con- 
tributed so  much  went  into  mourning  at  almost 
the  very  moment  we  were  getting  ready  to  go  to 
thank  him  officially  for  his  consideration  of  us. 
He  lived  in  the  Piazza  della  Spagna,  near  the 
Villa  Medici  where  he  wanted  to  be.  In  the 
church  of  Santa  Luigi  della  Francese  we  laid  on 
his  coffin  wreaths  of  laurel  from  the  garden  of 
the  Villa,  which,  as  a  student,  he  had  loved  so 
well.  He  was  a  comrade  at  the  Villa  of  his  be- 
loved musician  Ambroise  Thomas,  whom  he  saw 
for  the  last  time  at  the  height  of  his  glory.  .  .  . 

Some  days  later  Falguiere,  Chaplain  and  I 
started  for  Naples,  by  carriage  as  far  as  Pales- 
trina,  on  foot  to  Terracina,  at  the  southern  end 
of  the  Pontian  marshes,  then  again  by  carriage  to 
Naples!  .  .  . 




What  never  to  be  forgotten  times  they  were 
for  youthful  artists,  when  we  shared  our  enthu- 
siasms for  all  we  saw  in  these  pleasantly  pictur- 
esque villages — a  picturesqueness  which  has  cer- 
tainly gone  by  now. 

Our  lodgings  were  in  the  most  primitive  inns. 
I  remember  that  one  night  I  was  greatly  disturbed 
by  the  feeling  that  my  neighbor  in  the  garret  had 
set  the  miserable  hovel  on  fire.  Falguiere  had 
the  same  idea  too.  It  was  only  imagination. 
It  was  the  bright  starlight  shining  through  the 
dilapidated  ceiling. 

As  we  passed  through  the  woods  of  Subiacco, 
a  shepherd's  zampogna  (a  sort  of  rustic  bagpipe) 
sounded  a  burst  of  melody  which  I  presently 
noted  down  on  a  bit  of  paper  loaned  me  by  a 
Benedictine  monk  in  a  neighboring  monastery. 
These  measures  became  the  first  notes  of  Marie- 
Magdeleine,  the  sacred  drama  which  I  was  al- 
ready planning  for  my  first  venture. 



I  still  have  the  sketch  Chaplain  made  of  me 
at  the  moment. 

As  was  the  custom  in  the  olden  times  of  the 
pensionnaires  of  the  Villa  Medici,  we  lodged  in 
Naples  at  the  Casa  Combi,  an  old  house  over- 
looking the  Quay  Santa  Lucia.  The  fifth  floor 
was  reserved  for  us.  It  was  an  old  ruin  with  a 
pink  rough-cast  front  and  windows  framed  in 
mouldings  shaped  in  small  figures  and  cleverly 
painted,  like  those  one  sees  all  over  Italy  as  soon 
as  one  crosses  the  Var. 

A  vast  room  held  our  three  beds.  As  for  the 
dressing  room  and  the  rest,  they  were  on  the  bal- 
cony, where,  according  to  the  local  custom,  we 
hung  our  clothes  to  dry. 

In  order  to  travel  as  comfortably  as  possible, 
we  had  rigged  ourselves  out  at  Rome  with  three 
suits  of  white  flannel  with  blue  stripes. 

Risum  teneatis,  as  that  delightful  poet  Horace 
would  have  said.  First,  listen  to  this. 

From  the  moment  of  our  arrival  at  the  station 
in  Naples  we  were  watched  with  surprising  per- 
severance by  the  gendarmes.  In  addition,  the 
passersby  observed  us  with  the  utmost  astonish- 
ment. We  were  intensely  curious  and  won- 
dered what  the  reason  was  for  all  this.  We  did 


Massenet  at  Egreville 


not  have  long  to  wait.  Our  landlady,  Marietta, 
told  us  that  the  Neapolitan  convicts  wore  almost 
exactly  the  same  costume.  The  laughter  which 
greeted  this  revelation  led  us  to  complete  the  re- 
semblance. So  we  went  to  the  Cafe  Royal  in 
the  Piazza  S.  Ferdinando,  the  three  of  us  drag- 
ging our  right  legs  as  if  they  were  fastened  to  a 
ball  and  chain  as  the  convicts  were. 

We  almost  lived  in  the  galleries  of  the  Bor- 
bonico  Museum  during  our  first  days  in  Naples. 
The  most  wonderful  of  the  discoveries  in  the 
ruins  of  Herculanum,  Pompeii,  and  their  neigh- 
bor Stabies  had  been  placed  there.  We  were  as- 
tonished at  it  all,  enraptured,  charmed  by  end- 
less and  ever  new  discoveries. 

In  passing  I  must  recall  our  dutiful  ascent  of 
Vesuvius,  whose  plume  of  smoke  we  could  see 
in  the  distance.  We  came  back  carrying  our 
burned  shoes  in  our  hands  and  with  our  feet 
wrapped  in  flannel  which  we  had  bought  at  Torre 
del  Greco. 

We  took  our  meals  at  Naples  on  the  seashore 
on  the  Quay  Santa  Lucia,  almost  opposite  our 
house.  For  twelve  grani,  about  eight  sous,  we 
had  an  exquisite  soup  of  shellfish,  fish  fried  in 
an  oil  which  had  been  used  for  that  purpose  for 



two  or  three  years  at  least,  and  a  glass  of  Capri 

Then,  there  were  walks  to  Castellamare  at  the 
end  of  the  Gulf  of  Naples,  where  we  enjoyed  a 
wonderful  view;  and  to  Sorrento  so  rich  in  orange 
trees  that  the  arms  of  the  city  are  interwoven  in 
the  form  of  a  crown  of  orange  leaves.  At  Sor- 
rento we  saw  where  Tasso  was  born — the  famous 
Italian  poet,  the  immortal  author  of  "Jerusalem 

A  simple  terra  cotta  bust  decorates  the  front 
of  this  half  ruined  house!  Thence  to  Amalfi, 
once  almost  the  rival  of  Venice  in  the  size  of  its 

If  Napoleon  got  the  itch  through  handling  the 
gun  sponge  of  a  dirty  artilleryman,  we  owe  it  to 
the  truth  to  state  that  the  morning  after  we 
passed  the  night  in  the  place  all  three  of  us  were 
covered  with  lice.  We  had  to  have  our  heads 
shaved,  which  added  to  our  resemblance  to  con- 

We  were  somewhat  consoled  for  this  adven- 
ture by  sailing  to  Capri.  We  left  Amalfi  at  four 
o'clock  in  the  morning,  but  We  did  not  reach 
Capri  until  ten  at  night.  The  island  is  delight- 
ful and  the  views  bewitching.  The  top  of  Mount 



Solaro  is  1800  feet  above  the  sea  and  about  nine 
and  a  half  miles  around.  The  view  is  one  of  the 
most  beautiful  and  extensive  in  all  Italy. 

We  were  overtaken  by  a  frightful  storm  on 
our  way  to  Capri.  The  boat  was  loaded  with  a 
large  quantity  of  oranges  and  the  wild  waves 
swept  over  everything  to  the  great  despair  of 
the  sailors  who  outshouted  each  other  in  calling 
on  St.  Joseph,  the  patron  saint  of  Naples. 

There  is  a  pretty  legend  that  St.  Joseph, 
grieved  by  the  departure  of  Jesus  and  the  Virgin 
Mary  for  Heaven,  ordered  his  Son  to  come  back 
to  him.  Jesus  obeyed  and  came  back  with  all 
the  saints  in  Paradise.  The  Virgin  came  back, 
too,  to  the  conjugal  roof  escorted  by  eleven  thou- 
sand virgins.  When  the  Lord  saw  Paradise  de- 
populated in  this  way  and  not  wanting  to  put 
St.  Joseph  iii  the  wrong,  he  declared  that  the  lat- 
ter was  the  stronger  and  so  Heaven  was  repopu- 
lated  by  his  permission.  The  veneration  of  the 
Neapolitans  for  St.  Joseph  is  surprising,  as  the 
following  detail  illustrates. 

In  the  Eighteenth  Century  the  streets  of 
Naples  were  hardly  safe,  and  it  was  dangerous  to 
pass  through  them  at  night.  The  king  had  lan- 
terns placed  at  the  worst  corners  to  light  the 



passersby,  but  the  birbanti  broke  them  as  they 
found  they  interfered  with  their  nocturnal  deeds. 
Whereupon  some  one  was  struck  with  the  idea  of 
placing  an  image  of  St.  Joseph  beside  each  lan- 
tern, and  thereafter  they  were  respected  to  the 
great  joy  of  the  people. 

To  be  in  and  live  in  Capri  is  the  most  ideal  ex- 
istence that  one  can  dream  of.  I  brought  back 
from  there  page  after  page  of  the  works  which  I 
intended  to  write  later. 

Autumn  saw  us  back  in  Rome. 

At  that  time  I  wrote  my  beloved  master  Am- 
broise  Thomas  as  follows : 

"Last  Sunday  Bourgault  got  up  an  entertain- 
ment to  which  he  invited  twenty  Transteverins 
and  Transteverines — plus  six  musicians,  also 
from  the  Transtervere.  All  in  costume! 

"The  weather  was  fine  and  the  scene  was  sim- 
ply wonderful  when  we  were  in  the  'Bosco,'  my 
sacred  grove.  The  setting  sun  lighted  up  the 
old  walls  of  ancient  Rome.  The  entertainment 
ended  in  Falguiere's  studio,  lighted  a  giorno, 
our  doing.  There  the  dance  became  so  capti- 
vating and  intoxicating  that  we  finished  vis-a-vis 
to  the  Transteverines  in  the  final  salturrele. 
They  all  smoked,  ate,  and  drank — the  women  es- 
pecially liked  our  punch." 



One  of  the  greatest  and  most  thrilling  periods 
of  my  life  was  now  at  hand.  It  was  Christmas 
Eve.  We  arranged  an  outing  so  that  we  might 
follow  the  midnight  masses  in  the  churches. 
The  night  ceremonies  at  Sainte  Marie  Majeure 
and  at  Saint  Jean  de  Latran  impressed  me  most. 
Shepherds  with  their  flocks,  cows,  goats,  sheep 
and  pigs  were  in  the  public  square,  as  if  to  re- 
ceive the  benediction  of  the  Savior,  recalling  in 
this  way  His  birth  in  a  manger.  The  touching 
simplicity  of  these  beliefs  really  affected  me  and 
I  entered  Sainte  Marie  Majeure  accompanied  by 
a  lovely  goat  which  I  embraced  and  which  did 
not  want  to  leave  me.  This  in  no  way  aston- 
ished any  of  the  crowd  of  men  and  women  packed 
in  that  church,  kneeling  on  those  beautiful  Mo- 
saic pavements,  between  a  double  row  of  columns 
— relics  taken  from  the  ancient  temples. 

The  next  day — a  day  to  be  marked  with  a 
cross — on  the  staircase  with  its  three  hundred 
steps  which  leads  to  the  church  of  Ara  Coeli,  I 
passed  two  women,  obviously  fashionable  for- 
eigners. I  was  especially  charmed  by  the  ap- 
pearance of  the  younger.  Several  days  later  I 
was  at  Liszt's  who  was  preparing  for  his  ordina- 



tion,  and  I  recognized  among  the  famous  mas- 
ter's visitors  the  two  women  whom  I  had  seen  at 
Ara  Coeli. 

I  learned  almost  at  once  that  the  younger  had 
come  to  Rome  with  her  family  on  a  sightseeing 
trip  and  that  she  had  been  recommended  to  Liszt 
so  that  he  might  select  for  her  a  musician  capable 
of  directing  her  studies.  She  did  not  want  to 
interrupt  them  while  she  was  away  from  Paris. 
Liszt  at  once  proposed  me.  I  was  a  pensionnaire 
at  the  Academic  de  France  and  was  supposed  to 
work  there,  so  that  I  did  not  want  to  devote  my 
time  to  lessons.  The  young  girl's  charm,  how- 
ever, overcame  my  reluctance. 

You  may  have  already  guessed  that  this  beau- 
tiful girl  was  the  one  who  was  to  become  my  wife 
two  years  later,  the  ever-attentive,  often-worried 
companion  of  my  life,  the  witness  of  my  weak- 
nesses as  well  as  of  my  bursts  of  energy,  of  my 
sorrows  and  my  joys.  With  her  I  have  gone 
up  the  steps  of  life,  already  long,  but  not  so 
steep  as  those  which  led  to  Ara  Coeli,  that  altar 
of  the  skies  which  recalls  to  Rome  the  pure  and 
cloudless  celestial  abodes,  which  have  led  me 
along  a  way  sometimes  difficult  and  where  the 



roses  have  been  gathered  in  the  midst  of  thorns. 
But  is  not  life  always  so? 

In  the  following  spring  came  the  pension- 
naires'  annual  entertainment,  which  took  place  as 
was  customary  at  Castel  Fusano  on  the  Roman 
Campagna,  a  couple  of  miles  from  Ostia  in  a 
magnificent  pine  forest  divided  by  an  avenue  of 
beautiful  evergreen  oaks.  I  brought  away  with 
me  such  an  agreeable  remembrance  of  the  day 
that  I  advised  my  fiancee  and  her  family  to  make 
the  acquaintance  of  this  incomparable  spot. 

In  that  splendid  avenue  paved  with  old  marble 
slabs  I  recalled  Gaston  Boissier's  story,  in  his 
"Promenades  Archelogiques,"  of  Nisus  and 
Euraylus,  those  unfortunate  young  men  who  were 
sent  to  their  downfall  by  Volscens,  as  he  came 
from  Laurentium,  to  bring  part  of  his  troops  to 

The  thought  that  in  December  my  two  years' 
stay  would  be  up  and  that  I  would  have  to  leave 
the  Villa  Medici  and  return  to  France  made  me 
extremely  sad.  I  wanted  to  see  Venice  again. 
I  stayed  there  two  months  and  during  the  time 
I  jotted  down  the  rough  sketch  of  my  first  Suite 



I  noted  the  strange  and  beautiful  notes  of  the 
Austrian  trumpets  which  sounded  every  evening 
as  they  closed  the  gates  for  the  night.  And  I 
used  them  twenty-five  years  later  in  the  fourth 
act  of  Le  Cid. 

My  comrades  bade  me  good-by  on  December 
seventeenth,  not  only  at  the  last  sad  dinner  at 
our  large  table,  but  also  at  the  station  in  the 
evening.  I  had  given  over  the  day  to  packing, 
gazing  meditatively  the  while  at  the  bed  in  which 
I  should  never  sleep  again. 

All  the  souvenirs  of  my  two  years  in  Rome — • 
palms  from  Palm  Sunday,  a  drum  from  the 
Transtevere,  my  mandolin,  a  wooden  Virgin,  a 
few  sprays  and  branches  from  the  Villa's  garden, 
all  my  souvenirs  of  a  past  which  would  be  with 
me  always,  went  into  my  trunk  with  my  clothes. 
The  French  Embassy  paid  the  carriage. 

I  was  unwilling  to  leave  my  window  until  the 
setting  sun  had  disappeared  behind  St.  Peter's. 
It  seemed  as  if  Rome  in  its  turn  took  refuge  in 
shadow — a  shadow  which  bade  me  farewell. 




My  comrades  went  with  me  to  the  station  "del 
Termini,"  hard  by  the  Diocletian  ruins.  They 
did  not  leave  until  we  had  embraced  warmly  and 
they  stayed  until  my  train  disappeared  beyond 
the  horizon.  Happy  beings!  they  would  sleep 
that  night  at  the  Academic,  while  I  was  alone, 
torn  by  the  emotions  of  leaving,  numbed  by  the 
keen,  icy  December  cold,  shrouded  in  memories, 
and,  unless  fatigue  aided  me,  unable  to  sleep. 
Next  day  I  was  in  Florence. 

I  wanted  to  see  again  this  city  with  the  richest 
collections  of  art  in  Italy.  I  went  to  the  Pitti 
Palace,  one  of  the  wonders  of  Florence.  In  go- 
ing through  the  galleries  it  seemed  to  me  as 
though  I  were  not  alone,  but  that  the  living  re- 
membrance of  my  comrades  was  with  me,  that 
I  was  a  witness  of  their  enthusiasms  and  raptures 
before  all  the  masterpieces  piled  in  that  splendid 
palace.  I  saw  again  the  Titians,  the  Tintorets, 
the  works  of  Leonardo,  the  Veronese,  the  Michel 
Angelos,  and  the  Raphaels. 



With  what  delightfully  charmed  eyes  I  ad- 
mired anew  that  priceless  treasure,  Raphael's 
masterpiece  of  painting,  the  "Madonna  della 
sedella,"  then  the  "Temptation  of  St.  Anthony" 
by  Salvator  Rosa  placed  in  the  Hall  of  Ulysses, 
and  in  the  Hall  of  Flora  Canova's  "Venus," 
mounted  on  a  revolving  base.  I  studied,  too, 
the  works  of  Rubens,  Rembrandt  and  Van  Dyck. 

From  the  Pitti  Palace  I  went  to  be  astounded 
anew  by  the  Strozzi  Palace,  the  most  beautiful 
type  of  Florentine  palace.  Its  cornice,  attrib- 
uted to  Simon  Pollajo,  is  the  most  beautiful 
known  to  modern  times.  I  saw  once  more  the 
Buboli  gardens,  beside  the  Pitti  Palace,  designed 
by  Tribolo  and  Buontalenti. 

I  finished  the  day  with  a  walk  in  the  so-called 
Bois  de  Boulogne  de  Florence,  the  Cascine  Walk, 
at  the  western  gate  of  Florence,  between  the  right 
bank  of  the  Arno  and  the  railroad.  It  is  the 
favorite  walk  of  the  elegant  and  fashionable 
world  of  Florence,  the  city  called  the  Athens  of 
Italy.  I  remember  that  evening  had  already 
fallen  and  as  I  was  without  my  watch — I  had 
left  it  at  the  hotel — I  asked  a  peasant  I  met  on  the 
road  what  time  it  was.  The  answer  I  received 
was  so  poetically  turned  that  I  can  never  forget  it, 




"Sono  le  sette,  Varia  ne  treme  ancor!  .  .  ." 

"It  is  seven  o'clock.  The  air  still  trembles 
from  the  sound." 

I  left  Florence  to  continue  my  trip  by  the  way 
of  Pisa. 

Pisa  seemed  to  me  as  depopulated  as  if  it  had 
been  swept  by  the  plague.  When  one  considers 
that  in  the  Middle  Ages  it  was  a  rival  of  Genoa, 
Florence,  and  Venice,  one  feels  puzzled  by  the 
comparative  desolation  that  envelops  it.  I  re- 
mained alone  for  nearly  an  hour  on  the  Piazza  del 
Duomo,  looking  with  curiosity  on  the  master- 
pieces which  raise  their  artistic  beauty  there,  the 
Cathedral  or  Le  Dome  de  Pisa,  the  Campanile, 
better  known  as  the  Leaning  Tower,  and  last,  the 

Between  the  Dome  and  the  Baptistiere 
stretches  the  Campo  Santo,  the  famous  cemetery. 
The  earth  for  this  cemetery  was  brought  from 

It  seemed  to  me  that  the  Leaning  Tower  was 
only  waiting  until  I  had  passed,  unlike  the  Cam- 
panile of  Venice,  in  order  to  bring  down  deadly 
destruction  on  me.  On  the  contrary,  it  appears 
that  the  tower,  which  aided  Galileo  in  making  his 
famous  experiments  on  gravitation,  was  never 



more  secure.  This  is  proved  by  the  fact  that 
the  seven  great  bells  which  sound  in  full  swing 
several  times  a  day  have  never  affected  the 
strength  of  this  curious  structure. 

Here  I  come  to  the  most  interesting  part  of  my 
journey — after  I  left  Pisa,  huddled  under  the  top 
of  the  diligence,  which  followed  the  shores  of  the 
Mediterranean,  by  Spezzia  as  far  as  Genoa. 
What  an  unreal  journey  that  one  of  mine  was 
along  the  ancient  Roman  Way  on  the  top  of  the 
rocks  which  overlook  the  sea!  I  journeyed  as 
though  I  were  in  the  car  of  a  capricious  balloon. 

All  the  way  the  road  skirted  the  sea,  some- 
times cutting  through  forests  of  olives,  and  again 
rising  over  the  tops  of  the  hills  where  one  over- 
looked a  wide  horizon. 

It  was  picturesque  everywhere;  there  was  al- 
ways a  variety  of  astonishing  views  along  this 
way.  Traveling  as  I  did  by  the  light  of  a  mag- 
nificent moon,  it  was  most  ideally  beautiful  in  its 
originality  with  its  villages  in  which  one  saw  at 
times  a  lighted  window  in  the  distance  and  this 
sea  into  which  one  could  see  to  fathomless  depths. 

During  this  journey  it  seemed  to  me  that  I  had 
never  accumulated  so  many  ideas  and  projects, 
obsessed  as  I  was  by  the  thought  that  in  a  few 



hours  I  would  be  back  in  Paris  and  that  my  life 
was  about  to  commence. 

I  traveled  from  Genoa  to  Paris  by  rail. 
When  one  is  young,  one  sleeps  so  well!  I  woke 
up  shivering.  It  was  freezing.  The  piercing 
cold  of  the  night  had  covered  the  car  windows 
with  frosty  ornaments. 

We  went  by  Montereau,  and  Paris  was  almost 
in  sight!  I  could  not  imagine  then  that  some 
years  later  I  should  own  a  summer  house  in  this 
country  near  figreville. 

What  a  contrast  between  the  beautiful  sky  of 
Italy,  that  eternally  beautiful  sky,  sung  by  the 
poets,  which  I  had  just  left,  and  the  one  I  saw 
again,  so  dark,  gray,  and  sullen ! 

When  I  had  paid  for  my  journey  and  a  few 
small  expenses,  I  had  left  in  my  pockets  the  sum 
of  ...  two  francs! 

How  joyful  I  was,  when  I  reached  my  sister's 
house !  Also,  what  unforeseen  good  fortune ! 

It  was  raining  in  torrents  and  my  precious  two 
francs  went  to  buy  that  indispensable  vade 
mecum,  an  umbrella.  I  had  not  needed  one  dur- 
ing my  entire  stay  in  Italy.  Protected  from  the 
weather  I  went  to  the  Ministry  of  Finance  where 
I  knew  I  should  find  my  allowance  for  the  first 



quarter  of  the  new  year.  At  this  time  the  hold- 
ers of  the  Grand  Prix  enjoyed  a  pension  of  three 
thousand  francs  a  year.  I  was  still  entitled  to  it 
for  three  years.  What  good  luck! 

The  good  friend,  whom  I  have  already  men- 
tioned, had  been  forewarned  of  my  return  and 
had  rented  a  room  for  me  on  the  fifth  floor  of 
No.  14,  Rue  Taitbout.  From  the  calm  and  quiet 
beauty  of  my  room  at  the  Academic,  I  had  fallen 
into  the  midst  of  busy,  noisy  Paris. 

Ambroise  Thomas  introduced  me  to  wealthy 
friends  who  gave  famous  musical  evening  enter- 
tainments. I  saw  there  for  the  first  time  Leo 
Delibes,  whose  ballet  La  Source  had  already  won 
him  a  great  reputation  at  the  Opera.  I  saw  him 
direct  a  delightful  chorus  sung  by  fashionable 
ladies  and  I  whispered  to  myself,  "I,  too,  will 
write  a  chorus.  And  it  will  be  sung."  Indeed 
it  was,  but  by  four  hundred  male  voices.  I  had 
won  the  first  prize  in  the  Ville  de  Paris  com- 

My  acquaintance  with  the  poet  Armand  Sil- 
vestre  dates  from  this  time.  By  chance  he  was 
my  neighbor  on  the  top  of  an  omnibus,  and,  one 
thing  leading  to  another,  we  got  down  the  best 



of  friends.  He  saw  that  I  was  a  good  listener, 
and  he  told  me  some  of  the  most  drolly  im- 
proper stories,  in  which  he  excelled.  But  to  my 
mind  the  poet  surpassed  the  story  teller  and  a 
month  later  I  had  written  the  Poeme  d'Avril,  in- 
spired by  the  exquisite  verses  in  his  first  book. 

As  I  speak  of  the  Poeme  d'Avril,  I  remember 
the  fine  impression  it  made  on  Reyer.  He  urged 
me  to  take  it  to  a  publisher.  Armed  with  a  too 
flattering  letter  from  him  I  went  to  Choudens  to 
whom  he  recommended  me.  After  four  futile 
attempts  I  was  finally  received  by  the  wealthy 
publisher  of  Faust.  But  I  was  not  even  to  show 
my  little  manuscript.  I  was  immediately  shown 
out.  The  same  sort  of  reception  awaited  me  at 
Flaxland's,  the  publisher,  Place  de  la  Madeleine, 
and  also  at  Brandus's,  the  owner  of  Meyerbeer's 
works.  I  considered  this  altogether  natural,  for 
I  was  absolutely  unknown. 

As  I  was  going  back  (not  too  bitterly  disap- 
pointed) to  my  fifth  floor  on  the  Rue  Taitbout, 
with  my  music  in  my  pocket,  I  was  accosted  by  a 
fair,  tall  young  man,  with  a  kindly,  intelligent 
face,  who  said  to  me:  "Yesterday  I  opened  a 
music  store  near  here  in  the  Boulevard  de  la 



Madeleine.  I  know  who  you  are  and  I  am  ready 
to  publish  anything  you  like."  It  was  Georges 
Hartmann,  my  first  publisher. 

All  I  had  to  do  was  to  take  my  hand  from  my 
pocket  and  give  him  the  Poeme  d'Avril  which 
had  just  received  such  a  poor  reception  else- 

It  is  true  that  I  made  nothing  out  of  it,  but 
how  much  I  would  have  given — had  I  had  it — to 
have  it  published.  A  few  months  later  lovers  of 
music  were  singing: 

Quon  passe  en  aimant! 
Que  Vheure  est  done  breve 

As  yet  I  had  neither  honor  nor  money,  but  I 
certainly  had  a  good  deal  of  encouragement. 

Cholera  was  raging  in  Paris.  I  fell  ill  and 
the  neighbors  were  afraid  to  come  and  see  how 
I  was.  However,  Ambroise  Thomas  learned  of 
my  dangerous  illness  and  my  helpless  distress 
and  visited  me  in  my  room  accompanied  by  his 
doctor,  the  Emperor's  physician.  This  brave 
and  fatherly  act  on  the  part  of  my  beloved  mas- 
ter affected  me  so  much  that  I  fainted  in  bed.  I 
must  add  that  this  illness  was  only  fleeting  and 
that  I  finished  ten  pieces  for  the  piano  for  which 



Girod,  the  publisher,  paid  me  two  hundred 
francs.  A  louis  a  page!  To  that  benevolent 
publisher  I  owed  the  first  money  I  made  from 

The  health  of  Paris  improved. 

On  the  eighth  of  October  I  was  married  in  the 
little  old  church  in  the  village  of  Avon  near 

My  wife's  brother  and  my  new  cousin,  the 
eminent  violinist  Armingaud,  the  founder  of  the 
famous  quartet,  were  my  witnesses.  However, 
there  were  others  too.  A  flock  of  sparrows  came 
in  through  a  broken  window  and  out-chirped 
one  another  so  that  we  could  scarcely  hear  the 
words  of  the  good  cure. 

His  words  were  a  kindly  homage  to  my  new 
companion  and  encouragement  for  my  still  un- 
certain future. 

After  the  wedding  ceremony  we  walked  in  the 
beautiful  forest  of  Fontainebleau,  where  I  seemed 
to  hear,  in  the  midst  of  the  magnificence  of  na- 
ture, verdant  and  purple  in  the  warm  rays  of  the 
bright  sun,  caressed  by  the  songs  of  the  birds,  the 
words  of  that  great  poet  Alfred  de  Musset: 



"Aime  et  tu  renaitrais ;  fais-toi  fleur  pour 

We  left  Avon  to  pass  a  week  at  the  seashore, 
in  a  charming  solitude  a  deux,  often  the  most  en- 
viable solitude.  While  I  was  there,  I  corrected 
the  proofs  of  the  Poeme  d'Avril  and  the  ten  piano 

To  correct  proofs !  To  see  my  music  in  print ! 
Had  my  career  as  a  composer  really  begun? 




On  my  return  to  Paris  I  lived  with  my  wife's 
family  in  a  lovely  apartment  whose  brightness 
was  calculated  to  delight  the  eye  and  charm  the 
thoughts.  Ambroise  Thomas  sent  me  word  that 
at  his  request  the  directors  of  the  Opera-Comique, 
Ritt  and  de  Lewen,  wanted  to  entrust  to  me  a 
one-act  work.  This  was  La  Gran  T ante,  an 
opera-comique  by  Jules  Adenis  and  Charles 

This  was  bewildering  good  fortune  and  I  was 
almost  overcome  by  it.  To-day  I  regret  that  at 
that  time  I  was  unable  to  put  into  the  work  all  of 
myself  that  I  might  have  wished.  The  prelim- 
inary rehearsals  began  the  next  year.  How 
proud  I  was  when  I  received  my  first  notices  of 
rehearsals  and  when  I  sat  in  the  same  place  on 
the  famous  stage  which  had  known  Boi'eldieu, 
Herold,  M.  Auber,  Ambroise  Thomas,  Victor 
Masse,  Gounod,  Meyerbeer!  .  .  . 



I  was  about  to  learn  an  author's  trials.  But  I 
was  so  happy  in  doing  so ! 

A  first  work  is  the  first  cross  of  honor.  A  first 

I  had  everything  except  the  cross. 

The  first  cast  was:  Marie  Roze,  in  all  the 
splendor  of  her  youthful  beauty  and  talent ;  Vic- 
tor Capoul,  the  idol  of  the  public;  and  Mile. 
Girard,  the  spirited  singer  and  actress,  the  de- 
light of  the  Opera-Comique. 

We  were  ready  to  go  on  the  stage  when  the 
cast  was  upset.  Marie  Roze  was  taken  away 
from  me  and  replaced  by  a  seventeen  year  old 
beginner,  Marie  Heilbronn,  the  artist  to  whom  I 
was  to  entrust  the  creation  of  Manon  seventeen 
years  later. 

At  the  first  rehearsal  with  the  orchestra  I  was 
unconscious  of  what  was  going  on,  I  was  so  deeply 
absorbed  in  listening  to  this  and  that,  in  fact  to 
all  the  sonorousness  of  the  work,  which  did  not 
prevent  me,  however,  telling  every  one  that  I 
was  entirely  pleased  and  satisfied. 

I  had  the  courage  to  attend  the  first  perform- 
ance— in  the  wings,  which  reminded  me  of  Ber- 
lioz's UEnjance  du  Christ  which  I  had  attended 



That  evening  was  both  exciting  and  amusing. 

I  spent  the  entire  afternoon  in  feverish  agita- 

I  stopped  at  every  poster  to  look  at  the  fascinat- 
ing words  so  large  with  promise : 

First  Performance  of  La  Grand  'Tante 
Opera-Comique  in  One  Act 

I  had  to  wait  to  read  the  authors'  names. 
That  would  come  only  with  the  announcement 
of  the  second  performance. 

We  served  as  a  curtain  raiser  for  the  great  suc- 
cess of  the  moment,  La  Voyage  en  Chine  by  La- 
biche  and  Frangois  Bazin. 

I  had  been  a  pupil  of  the  latter  for  a  brief 
while  at  the  Conservatoire.  His  pilgrimages  to 
the  land  of  the  Celestials  had  not  deprived  his 
teaching  of  that  hard,  unamiable  form  which  I 
suffered  from  with  him,  and  I  left  his  class  in 
harmony  a  month  after  I  joined  it.  I  went  into 
the  class  of  Henri  Reber  of  the  Institute.  He 
was  a  fine,  exquisite  musician,  of  the  race  of 
Eighteenth  Century  masters.  All  his  music 
breathed  forth  pleasant  memories. 

One  fine  Friday  evening  in  April,  at  half-past 
seven,  the  curtain  rose  at  the  Opera-Comique. 



I  was  in  the  wings  near  my  dear  frien3  Jules 
Adenis.  My  heart  throbbed  with  anxiety,  seized 
by  that  mystery  to  which  for  the  first  time  I  gave 
myself  body  and  soul,  as  to  an  unknown  God. 
To-day  that  seems  a  little  exaggerated,  rather 

The  piece  had  just  begun,  when  we  heard  a 
burst  of  laughter  from  the  audience.  "Listen, 
mo/I  ami,  what  a  splendid  start,"  said  Adenis. 
"The  audience  is  amused." 

The  audience  was  indeed  amused,  but  this  is 
what  happened.  The  scene  opened  in  Brittany 
on  a  stormy,  tempestuous  night.  Mile.  Girard 
had  faced  the  audience  and  sung  a  prayer,  when 
Capoul  entered,  speaking  these  words  from  the 

"What  a  country !  What  a  wilderness !  Not 
a  soul  in  sight!"  when  he  saw  Mile.  Girard's  back 
and  cried : 

"At  last  .  .  .  There's  a  face!" 

He  had  scarcely  uttered  this  expression  when 
the  roars  of  laughter  we  had  heard  broke  loose. 

However,  the  piece  went  on  without  further 

They  encored  Mile.  Girard's  song,  Les  filles 
de  la  Rochelle. 



They  applauded  Capoul  and  gave  the  young 
debutante  Heilhronn  a  great  welcome. 

The  opera  ended  in  sympathetic  applause, 
whereupon  the  stage  manager  came  out  to  an- 
nounce the  names  of  the  authors.  Just  then  a 
cat  walked  across  the  stage.  This  was  the  cause 
of  fresh  hilarity  which  was  so  great  that  the  au- 
thors' names  went  unheard. 

It  was  a  day  of  mishaps.  Two  accidents  on 
the  same  evening  gave  grounds  for  fear  that  the 
piece  would  fail.  There  was  nothing  in  it,  how- 
ever, and  the  press  showed  itself  really  indulgent. 
It  sheathed  its  claws  in  velvet  in  its  appreciation. 

Theophile  Gautier,  a  great  poet  and  an  emi- 
nent critic,  was  kind  enough  to  fling  a  few  of  his 
sparkling  bits  at  the  work,  proof  of  his  obvious 
good  feeling. 

La  Grand'Tante  was  played  with  La  Voyage  en 
Chine,  a  great  financial  success,  and  I  lived  four- 
teen evenings.  I  was  in  raptures.  I  no  longer 
consider  only  fourteen  performances;  they 
scarcely  count. 

The  orchestral  score  (it  was  not  engraved) 
was  lost  in  the  fire  at  the  Opera- Comique  in  1887. 
It  was  no  great  loss  to  music,  but  I  should  be 



happy  to  have  the  evidence  of  the  first  steps  in 
my  career. 

At  this  time  I  was  giving  lessons  in  a  family 
at  Versailles,  with  which  I  am  still  in  touch. 
I  was  caught  in  a  heavy  shower  on  my  way  there 
one  day.  That  rain  was  good  to  me,  verifying 
the  adage,  "Every  cloud  has  a  silver  lining."  I 
waited  patiently  in  the  station  for  the  rain  to 
stop,  when  I  saw  near  me  Pasdeloup  who  was 
also  waiting  until  the  shower  was  over. 

He  had  never  spoken  to  me.  The  wait  at  the 
station  and  the  bad  weather  were  an  easy  and 
natural  excuse  for  the  conversation  we  had  to- 
gether. On  his  asking  me  whether  in  my  work 
at  Rome  I  had  not  written  something  for  the  or- 
chestra, I  replied  that  I  had  a  Suite  d'Orchestra 
in  five  parts  (the  one  I  had  written  in  Venice  in 
1865) ;  he  begged  me  point  blank  to  send  it  to 
him.  I  sent  it  the  same  week. 

I  take  extreme  pleasure  in  paying  homage 
to  Pasdeloup.  He  not  only  aided  me  gener- 
ously on  this  occasion,  but  he  was  also  the  cre- 
ative genius  of  the  first  popular  concerts  which 
aided  so  powerfully  in  making  music  understood 
outside  the  theater. 

In  the  Rue  des  Martyrs  one  rainy  day  (Always 

One  of  the  last  portraits  of  Massenet 


rain !  Truly  Paris  is  not  Italy ! )  I  met  one  of  my 
confreres,  a  violoncellist  in  Pasdeloup's  orches- 
tra. While  we  were  chatting,  he  said,  "This 
morning  we  read  a  very  remarkable  Suite  d'Or- 
chestra.  We  wanted  to  know  the  author's  name, 
but  it  wasn't  on  the  orchestral  parts." 

I  jumped  up  at  once.  I  was  greatly  excited. 
Was  it  my  work  or  that  of  some  one  else? 

"In  this  Suite,"  I  asked  him  with  a  start,  "is 
there  a  fugue,  a  march,  and  a  nocturne?" 

"Exactly,"  he  replied. 

"Then,"  I  said,  "it  is  mine." 

I  rushed  to  the  Rue  Lafitte  and  flew  up  the 
stairs  like  a  madman  to  tell  my  wife  and  her 

Pasdeloup  had  given  me  no  warning. 

On  the  program  for  the  next  day  but  one,  Sun- 
day, I  saw  my  first  orchestral  suite  announced. 

How  was  I  to  hear  what  I  had  written? 

I  paid  for  a  place  in  the  third  balcony  and 
listened,  lost  in  that  dense  crowd,  as  it  was  every 
Sunday,  in  that  gallery  where  they  even  had  to 
stand.  Each  passage  was  well  received.  The 
last  had  just  ended  when  a  young  fellow  near  me 
hissed  twice.  Both  times,  however,  the  audi- 
ence protested  and  applauded  all  the  more  heart- 



ily.     So  the  kill-joy  did  not  gain  the  effect  he 

I  went  back  home  all  of  a  tremble.  My  fam- 
ily had  also  gone  to  the  Cirque  Napoleon  and 
came  to  find  me  at  once.  If  my  people  were 
happy  at  my  success,  they  were  still  more 
pleased  to  have  heard  my  work. 

One  would  have  thought  no  more  about  that 
misguided  hisser,  except  that  the  next  day  Al- 
bert Wolf  devoted  a  long  article  on  the  front 
page  of  the  Figaro,  as  unkind  as  it  could  be,  to 
breaking  my  back.  His  brilliant,  cutting  wit 
was  amusing  reading  for  his  public.  My  friend, 
Theodore  Dubois,  as  young  as  I  was  in  his  career, 
had  the  fine  courage  to  reply  to  Wolf  at  the  risk 
of  losing  his  position.  He  wrote  a  letter  worthy 
in  every  way  of  his  great,  noble  heart. 

Reyer  for  his  part  consoled  me  for  the  Figaro 
article  by  this  curious,  piquant  bon-mot:  "Let 
him  talk.  Wits,  like  imbeciles,  can  be  mis- 

I  owe  it  to  the  truth  to  say  that  Albert  Wolf 
regretted  what  he  had  written  without  attaching 
any  importance  to  it  except  to  please  his  readers, 
and  never  thinking  that  at  the  same  time  he  might 



kill  the  future  of  a  young  musician.  Afterwards 
he  became  one  of  my  warmest  friends. 

Emperor  Napoleon  III  opened  three  competi- 
tions, and  I  did  not  wait  a  single  day  to  enter 

I  competed  for  the  cantata  Promethee,  the 
opera-comique  Le  Florentin,  and  the  opera  La 
Coupe  du  Roi  de  Thule. 

I  got  nothing. 

Saint-Saens  won  the  prize  with  his  Promethee; 
Charles  Lenepveu  was  crowned  for  his  Le  Floren- 
tin — I  was  third — and  Diaz  got  first  place  with 
La  Coupe  du  Roi  de  Thule.  It  was  given  at  the 
Opera  under  marvellous  conditions  of  interpre- 

Saint-Saens  knew  that  I  had  competed  and 
that  the  award  had  wavered  between  me  and  Diaz 
who  had  won.  Shortly  after  this  he  met  me  and 

"There  are  so  many  good  and  beautiful  things 
in  your  score  that  I  have  just  written  to  Weimar 
to  see  if  your  work  can't  be  performed  there." 

Only  great  men  act  like  that! 

Events,  however,  decreed  otherwise,  and  the 
thousand  pages  of  orchestration  were  for  thirty 



years  a  well  from  which  I  drew  many  a  passage 
for  my  subsequent  works. 

I  was  beaten,  but  not  broken. 
Ambroise  Thomas,  the  constant,  ever  kind  gen- 
ius of  my  life,  introduced  me  to  Michel  Carre,  one 
of  the  collaborators  on  Mignon  and  Hamlet. 
The  billboards  constantly  proclaimed  his  suc- 
cesses and  he  entrusted  me  with  a  libretto  in  three 
acts  which  was  splendidly  done,  entitled  Meduse. 

I  worked  on  this  during  the  summer  and  win- 
ter of  1869  and  during  the  spring  of  1870.  On 
the  twelfth  of  July  of  that  year  the  work  had  been 
done  for  several  days,  and  Michel  Carre  made  an 
appointment  to  meet  me  at  the  Opera.  He  in- 
tended to  tell  the  director,  Emile  Perrin,  that  he 
must  put  the  work  on  and  that  it  would  pay  him 
to  do  so. 

Emile  Perrin  was  not  there. 

I  left  Michel  Carre,  who  embraced  me  heart- 
ily and  said,  "Au  revoir.  On  the  stage  of  the 

I  went  to  Fontainebleau  where  I  was  living, 
that  same  evening. 

I  was  going  to  be  happy.  .  .  . 

But  the  future  was  too  lovely ! 

The  next  morning  the  papers  announced  the 


declaration  of  war  between  France  and  Germany 
and  I  never  saw  Michel  Carre  again.  He  died 
some  months  after  this  touching  meeting  which 
seemed  so  decisive  to  me. 

Good-by  to  my  fine  plans  for  Weimar,  my 
hopes  at  the  Opera,  and  my  own  hopes  too. 
War,  with  all  its  alarms  and  horrors,  had  come  to 
drench  the  soil  of  France  with  blood. 

I  went. 

I  will  not  take  up  my  recollections  again  until 
after  that  utterly  terrible  year.  I  do  not  want  to 
make  such  cruel  hours  live  again ;  I  want  to  spare 
my  readers  their  mournful  tale. 




The  Commune  had  just  gasped  its  last  breath 
when  we  found  ourselves  again  at  the  family 
abode  in  Fontainebleau. 

Paris  breathed  once  more  after  a  long  period 
of  trouble  and  agony;  gradually  calm  returned. 
As  if  the  lesson  of  that  bloody  time  would  never 
fade  away  and  as  if  its  memory  would  be  perpet- 
ual, bits  of  burnt  paper  were  brought  into  our 
garden  from  time  to  time  on  the  wings  of  the 
wind.  I  kept  one  piece.  It  bore  traces  of  fig- 
ures and  probably  came  from  the  burning  of  the 
Ministry  of  Finance. 

As  soon  as  I  saw  again  my  dear  little  room  in 
the  country,  I  found  courage  to  work  and  in  the 
peace  of  the  great  trees  which  spread  over  us 
with  their  sweetly  peaceful  branches  I  wrote  the 
Scenes  Pittoresques. 

I  dedicated  them  to  my  good  friend  Paladilhe, 
author  of  Patrie,  later  my  confrere  at  the  Insti- 

As  I  had  undergone  all  kinds  of  privation  for 


so  many  months,  the  life  I  was  now  living  seemed 
to  me  most  exquisite;  it  brought  back  my  good 
humor  and  gave  me  a  calm  and  serene  mind. 

On  this  account  I  was  able  to  write  my  second 
orchestral  suite  which  was  played  some  years 
later  at  the  Chatelet  concerts. 

But  I  went  back  to  Paris  before  long,  for  I 
wanted  to  see,  as  soon  as  possible,  the  great  city 
which  had  been  so  sorely  tried.  I  had  hardly 
got  back  when  I  met  Emile  Bergerat,  the  bright 
and  delightful  poet,  who  later  became  Theophile 
Gautier's  son-in-law. 

How  dear  a  name  in  French  letters  is  that  of 
Theophile  Gautier!  What  glory  he  heaped  on 
them — that  illustrious  Benvenuto  of  style  as  they 
called  him! 

Bergerat  took  me  with  him  one  day  to  visit  his 
future  father-in-law. 

My  sensations  in  approaching  that  great  poet 
were  indescribable!  He  was  no  longer  in  the 
dawn  of  life,  but  he  was  still  youthful  and  viva- 
cious in  thought,  and  rich  in  images  with  which 
he  adorned  his  slightest  conversation.  And  his 
learning  was  extremely  wide  and  varied.  I 
found  him  sitting  in  a  large  armchair  with  three 
cats  about  him.  I  have  always  been  fond  of 



the  pretty  creatures,  so  I  at  once  made  friends 
with  them  which  put  me  in  the  good  graces  of 
their  master. 

Bergerat,  who  has  continued  to  be  a  charming 
friend  to  me,  told  him  that  I  was  a  musician  and 
that  a  ballet  over  his  name  would  open  the  doors 
of  the  Opera  to  me.  He  developed  on  the  spot 
two  subjects  for  me:  Le  Preneur  de  Rats  (The 
Rat  Catcher)  and  La  Fille  du  Roi  des  Aulnes. 
The  recollection  of  Schubert  frightened  me  off 
the  latter,  and  it  was  arranged  that  the  Rat 
Catcher  should  be  offered  to  the  director  of  the 

Nothing  came  of  it  as  far  as  I  was  concerned. 
The  name  of  the  great  poet  was  so  dazzling  that 
the  poor  musician  was  completely  lost  in  its  bril- 
liance. It  was  said,  however,  that  I  would  not 
remain  a  nonentity,  but  that  I  would  finally 
emerge  from  obscurity. 

Duquesnel,  an  admirable  friend,  then  the  di- 
rector of  the  Odeon,  at  the  instance  of  Hartmann, 
my  publisher,  sent  for  me  to  come  to  his  office 
at  the  theater  and  asked  me  to  write  the  stage 
music  for  the  old  tragedy  Les  Erinnyes  by  Le- 
conte  de  Lisle.  He  read  several  scenes  to  me 
and  I  became  enthusiastic  at  once. 



How  splendid  the  rehearsals  were!  They 
were  under  the  direction  of  the  celebrated  artist 
Brindeau,  the  stage  manager  at  the  Odeon,  but 
Leconte  de  Lisle  managed  them  in  person. 

What  an  Olympian  attitude  was  that  of  the  fa- 
mous translator  of  Homer,  Sophocles,  and  The- 
ocritus, those  geniuses  of  the  past  whom  he  al- 
most seemed  to  equal!  How  admirable  the  ex- 
pression of  his  face  with  his  double  eye-glass 
which  seemed  a  part  of  him  and  through  which 
his  eyes  gleamed  with  lightning  glances ! 

How  could  they  pretend  that  he  did  not  like 
music  when  they  inflicted  so  much  of  it  on  him, 
in  that  work  at  any  rate?  It  was  ridiculous. 
That  is  the  sort  of  legend  with  which  they  over- 
whelm so  many  poets. 

Theophile  Gautier,  who,  they  said,  considered 
music  the  most  costly  of  all  noises,  knew  and 
liked  other  marvellous  artists  too  well  to  dis- 
parage our  art.  Besides,  who  can  forget  his  crit- 
ical articles  on  music  which  his  daughter  Judith 
Gautier,  of  the  Goncourt  Academy,  has  just  col- 
lected in  one  volume  with  pious  care,  and  which 
are  uncommonly  and  astonishingly  just  appreci- 

Leconte  de  Lisle  was  a  fervent  admirer  of 


Wagner  and  of  Alphonse  Daudet,  of  whom  I 
shall  speak  later,  and  had  a  soul  most  sensitive  to 

In  spite  of  the  snow  I  went  to  the  country  in 
December  to  shut  myself  up  for  a  few  days  with 
my  wife's  good  parents  and  I  wrote  the  music  of 
Les  Erinnyes. 

Dusquesnel  placed  forty  musicians  at  my  dis- 
posal, which,  under  the  circumstances,  was  a  con- 
siderable expense  and  a  great  favor.  Instead  of 
writing  a  score  for  the  regular  orchestra — which 
would  have  produced  only  a  paltry  effect — I  had 
the  idea  of  having  a  quartet  of  thirty-six  stringed 
instruments  corresponding  to  a  large  orchestra. 
Then  I  added  three  trombones  to  represent  the 
three  Erinnyes:  Tisiphone,  Alecto  and  Megere, 
and  a  pair  of  kettledrums.  So  I  had  my  forty. 

I  again  thank  that  dear  director  for  this  un- 
usual luxury  of  instruments.  I  owed  the  sym- 
pathy of  many  musicians  to  it  and  to  him. 

As  I  was  already  occupied  with  an  opera-com- 
ique  in  three  acts  which  a  young  collaborator 
of  Ennery's  had  obtained  for  me  from  the  man- 
ager of  the  theater — how  my  memory  flies  to 
Chantepie,  vanished  from  the  stage  too  early — 
I  received  a  letter  from  du  Locle,  then  director 



of  the  Opera-Comique,  telling  me  that  this  work, 
Don  Cesar  de  Bazan,  must  be  ready  in  Novem- 

The  cast  was :  Mile.  Priola,  Mme.  Galli  Marie, 
already  famous  as  Mignon,  later  the  never  to  be 
forgotten  Carmen,  and  a  young  beginner  with  a 
well  trained  voice  and  charming  presence,  M. 

The  work  was  put  on  hastily  with  old  scenery, 
which  so  displeased  Ennery  that  he  never  ap- 
peared in  the  theater  again. 

Madame  Galli  took  the  honors  of  the  evening 
with  several  encores.  The  Entr'acte  Sevillana 
was  also  applauded.  The  work,  however,  did 
not  succeed  for  it  was  taken  off  the  bill  after  the 
thirteenth  performance.  Joncieres,  the  author 
of  Dimitri,  pled  my  cause  in  vain  before  the  So- 
ciete  des  Auteurs,  of  which  Auguste  Maquet  was 
president,  arguing  that  they  had  no  right  to 
withdraw  a  work  which  still  averaged  so  good 
receipts.  They  were  kind  words  lost!  Don 
Cesar  was  played  no  more. 

I  recall  that  later  on  I  had  to  re-write  the  whole 
work  at  the  request  of  several  provincial  houses 
so  that  it  might  be  played  as  they  wished.  The 
manuscript  of  the  score  (only  the  entr'acte  was 



engraved)  was  burnea  in  the  fire  of  May,  1887, 
as  was  my  first  work. 

An  invincible  secret  power  directed  my  life. 

I  was  invited  to  dine  at  the  house  of  Mme. 
Pauline  Viardot,  the  sublime  lyric  tragedienne. 
In  the  course  of  the  evening  I  was  asked  to  play  a 
little  music. 

I  was  taken  unawares  and  I  began  to  sing  a  bit 
from  my  sacred  drama  Marie  Magdeleine. 

Although  I  had  no  voice,  at  that  age  I  had  a 
good  deal  of  go  in  the  manner  of  singing  my 
music.  Now,  I  speak  it,  and  in  spite  of  the  in- 
sufficiency of  my  vocal  powers,  my  artists  get 
what  I  mean. 

I  was  singing,  if  I  may  say  so,  when  Mme. 
Pauline  Viardot  leaned  over  the  keyboard  and 
said  with  an  accent  of  emotion  never  to  be  for- 

"What  is  that?" 

"Marie  Magdeleine"  I  told  her,  "a  work  of 
my  youth  which  I  never  even  hope  to  put  on." 

"What?  Well,  it  shall  be  and  I  will  be  your 
Mary  Magdalene." 

I  at  once  sang  again  the  scene  of  Magdalene  at 
the  Cross: 

Obien-aime!     Sous  ta  sombre  couronne.  .  .  . 


When  Hartmann  heard  of  this,  he  wanted  to 
play  a  trick  on  Pasdeloup,  who  had  heard  the 
score  not  long  before  and  who  had  refused  it  al- 
most brutally,  so  he  created,  in  collaboration  with 
Duquesnel  at  the  Odeon,  the  Concert  National. 
The  leader  of  the  orchestra  at  this  new  popular 
concert  was  Edouard  Colonne,  my  old  friend  at 
the  Conservatoire,  whom  I  had  already  chosen  to 
conduct  Les  Erinnyes. 

Hartmann's  publishing  house  was  the  ren- 
dezvous for  all  the  youngsters,  including  Cesar 
Franck  whose  lofty  works  had  not  yet  come  into 
their  own. 

The  small  shop  at  17  Boulevard  de  la  Made- 
leine became  the  center  of  the  musical  movement. 
Bizet,  Saint-Saens,  Lalo,  Franck,  and  Holmes 
were  a  part  of  the  inner  circle.  Here  they 
chatted  gaily  and  with  every  enthusiasm  and  ar- 
dor in  their  faith  in  the  great  art  which  was  to 
ennoble  their  lives. 

The  first  five  concerts  at  the  Concert  National 
were  devoted  to  Cesar  Franck  and  to  other  com- 
posers. The  sixth  and  last  was  given  to  the  full 
performance  of  Marie  Magdeleine. 




The  first  reading  of  Marie  Magdeleine  to  the 
cast  took  place  at  nine  o'clock  one  morning  in 
the  small  hall  of  the  Maison  Erard,  Rue  de  Mail, 
which  had  been  used  heretofore  for  quartet  con- 
certs. Early  as  the  hour  was  Mme.  Viardot  was 
even  earlier,  so  eager  was  she  to  hear  the  first 
notes  of  my  work.  The  other  interpreters  ar- 
rived a  few  moments  later. 

Edouard  Colonne  conducted  the  orchestra  re- 

Mme.  Viardot  took  a  lively  interest  in  the 
reading.  She  followed  it  like  an  artist  well  ac- 
quainted with  the  composition.  She  was  a  mar- 
vellous singer  and  lyric  tragedienne  and  more 
than  an  artist ;  she  was  a  great  musician,  a  woman 
marvellously  endowed  and  altogether  unusual. 

On  the  eleventh  of  April  the  Odeon  received 
the  public  which  always  attends  dress  rehearsals 
and  first  nights.  The  theater  opened  its  doors  to 
All  Paris,  always  the  same  hundred  persons  who 



think  it  the  most  desirable  privilege  in  tne  world 
to  be  present  at  a  rehearsal  or  a  first  night. 

The  press  was  represented  as  usual. 

I  took  refuge  with  my  interpreters  in  the  wings. 
They  were  all  there  and  they  were  highly  ex- 
cited. In  their  emotion  it  seemed  as  if  they  were 
to  pass  a  final  sentence  on  me,  that  they  were 
about  to  give  a  verdict  on  which  my  life  de- 

I  can  give  no  account  of  the  impression  of  the 
audience.  I  had  to  leave  the  next  day  with  my 
wife  for  Italy,  so  I  had  no  immediate  news. 

The  first  echo  of  Marie  Magdeleine  reached  me 
at  Naples  in  the  form  of  a  touching  letter  from 
the  ever  kindly  Ambroise  Thomas. 

This  is  what  the  master,  always  so  delicately 
attentive  to  everything  which  marked  the  steps  of 
my  musical  career,  wrote: 

PARIS,  April  12, 1873 

As  I  am  obliged  to  go  to  my  country  place  to- 
day, I  shall,  perhaps,  not  have  the  pleasure  of 
seeing  you  before  your  departure.  In  the  un- 
certainty I  cannot  postpone  telling  you,  my  dear 
friend,  how  pleased  I  was  last  evening  and  how 
happy  I  was  at  your  fine  success. 

It  is  at  once  a  serious,  noble  work,  full  of  feel- 


ing.  It  is  of  OUT  times,  but  you  have  proved  that 
one  can  walk  the  path  of  progress  and  still  remain 
clear,  sober,  and  restrained. 

You  have  known  how  to  move,  because  you 
have  been  moved  yourself. 

I  was  carried  away  like  everyone  else,  indeed 
more  than  anyone  else. 

You  have  expressed  happily  the  lovely  poetry 
of  that  sublime  drama. 

In  a  mystical  subject  where  one  is  tempted  to 
fall  into  an  abuse  of  somber  tones  and  severity  of 
style,  you  have  shown  yourself  a  colorist  while 
retaining  charm  and  clearness. 

Be  content ;  your  work  will  be  heard  again  and 
will  endure. 

Au  revoir;  with  all  my  heart  I  congratulate 

My  affectionate  congratulations  to  Madame 


I  read  and  re-read  this  dear  letter.  I  could 
not  get  it  out  of  my  thoughts  so  agreeable  and 
precious  was  the  comfort  it  brought  me. 

I  was  lost  in  such  delightful  revery  when,  as 
we  were  taking  the  steamer  for  Capri,  I  saw  a 
breathless  hotel  servant  running  towards  me  with 
a  package  of  letters  in  his  hands.  They  were 
from  my  friends  in  Paris  who  were  delighted  with 


Mme.  Pauline  Viardot 


my  success  and  who  were  determined  to  express 
their  joy  to  me.  A  copy  of  the  Journal  des  De- 
bats  was  enclosed.  It  came  from  Ernest  Reyer 
and  contained  over  his  signature  an  article  which 
was  most  eulogistic  of  my  work,  one  of  the  most 
moving  I  have  ever  received. 

I  had  now  returned  to  see  this  charming  and 
intoxicating  country.  I  visited  Naples  and  Ca- 
pri, then  Sorrento,  all  picturesque  places  capti- 
vatingly  beautiful,  perfumed  with  the  scent  of 
orange  trees,  and  all  this  on  the  morrow  of  a 
never  to  be  forgotten  evening.  I  lived  in  the 
most  unutterable  raptures. 

A  week  later  we  were  in  Rome. 

We  had  scarcely  reached  the  Hotel  de  la  Min- 
erve  when  there  arrived  a  gracious  invitation  to 
lunch  from  the  director  of  the  Academic  de 
France,  a  member  of  the  Institute,  the  illustrious 
painter  Ernest  Hebert. 

Several  students  were  invited  to  this  occasion. 
We  breathed  the  warm  air  of  that  wholly  lovely 
day  through  the  open  windows  of  the  director's 
salon  where  De  Troy's  magnificent  tapestries  rep- 
resenting the  story  of  Esther  were  hung. 

After  lunch  Hebert  asked  me  to  let  him  hear 
some  of  the  passages  from  Marie  Magdeleine* 



Flattering  accounts  of  it  had  come  to  him  from 

The  next  day  the  Villa's  students  invited  me 
in  their  turn.  It  was  with  the  keenest  emotion 
that  I  found  myself  once  more  in  that  dining 
room  with  its  arched  ceiling,  where  my  portrait 
was  hung  beside  those  of  the  other  Grand  Prixs. 
After  lunch  I  saw  in  a  studio  opening  into  the 
garden  the  "Gloria  Victis,"  the  splendid  master- 
piece which  was  destined  to  make  the  name  of 
Mercie  immortal. 

I  must  confess  in  speaking  of  Marie  Magde- 
leine  that  I  had  a  presentiment  that  the  work 
would  in  the  end  gain  honors  on  the  stage. 
However  I  had  to  wait  twenty  years  before  I  had 
that  pleasant  satisfaction.  It  verified  the  opin- 
ion I  had  formed  of  that  sacred  drama. 

M.  Saugey,  the  able  director  of  the  Opera  at 
Nice,  was  the  first  to  have  the  audacity  to  try  it 
and  he  could  not  but  congratulate  himself.  On 
my  part  I  tender  him  my  sincere  thanks. 

Our  first  Marie  Magdeleine  on  the  stage  was 
Lina  Pacary.  That  born  artist,  in  voice,  beauty 
and  talent  was  fitted  for  the  creation  of  this  part, 
and  when  the  same  theater  later  put  on  Ariane, 



Lina  Pacary  was  again  selected  as  the  interpreter. 
Her  uninterrupted  success  made  her  theatrical 
life  really  admirable. 

The  year  following  my  dear  friend  and  director 
Albert  Carre  put  the  work  on  at  the  Opera-Com- 
ique.  It  was  my  good  fortune  to  have  as  my  in- 
terpreters Mme.  Marguerite  Carre,  Mme.  Ai'no 
Ackte,  and  Salignac. 

So  I  lived  again  in  Rome  in  the  most  pleasant 
thoughts  of  Marie  Magdeleine.  Naturally  it  was 
the  topic  of  conversation  on  the  ideal  walks  I 
took  with  Hebert  in  the  Roman  Campagna. 

Hebert  was  not  only  a  great  painter  but  also  a 
distinguished  poet  and  musician.  In  the  latter 
capacity  he  played  in  a  quartet  which  was  often 
heard  at  the  Academic. 

Ingres,  also  a  director  of  the  Academic,  played 
the  violin.  Delacroix  was  asked  one  day  what 
he  thought  of  Ingres's  violin  playing. 

"He  plays  like  Raphael,"  was  the  amusing  an- 
swer of  this  brilliant  colorist. 

So  delightful  was  our  stay  in  Rome  that  it  was 
with  regret  that  we  left  that  city  so  dear  to  our 
memories  and  went  back  to  Paris. 

I  had  hardly  got  back  to  No.  46  Rue  du  Gen- 


eral  Foy — where  I  lived  for  thirty  years — than  I 
became  absorbed  in  a  libretto  by  Jules  Adenis — 
Les  Templiers. 

I  had  hardly  written  two  acts  when  I  began  to 
worry  about  it.  The  piece  was  extremely  inter- 
esting, but  its  historical  situations  took  me  along 
the  road  already  travelled  by  Meyerbeer. 

Hartmann  agreed  with  me;  indeed  my  pub- 
lisher was  so  outspoken  about  it  that  I  tore  into 
bits  the  two  hundred  pages  which  I  had  sub- 
mitted to  him. 

In  deep  trouble,  hardly  knowing  where  I  was 
going,  I  happened  to  think  of  calling  on  Louis 
Gallet,  my  collaborator  in  Marie  Magdeleine.  I 
came  from  this  interview  with  him  with  the  plan 
of  Le  Roi  de  Lahore.  From  the  funeral  pyre  of 
the  last  Grand  Master  of  the  Templars,  Jean 
Jacques  de  Molay,  whom  I  had  given  up,  I  found 
myself  in  the  Paradise  of  India.  It  was  the 
seventh  heaven  of  bliss  for  me. 

Charles  Lamoureux,  the  famous  orchestra 
leader,  had  just  founded  the  Concerts  de  THar- 
monie  Sacree  in  the  Cirque  des  Champs  filysees, 
which  to-day  has  disappeared.  (What  a  wicked 
delight  they  take  in  turning  a  superb  theater  into 



a  branch  of  the  Bank  or  an  excellent  concert 
hall  into  a  grass  plot  of  the  Champs  filysees!) 

As  everyone  knows  Handel's  oratorios  made 
these  concerts  famous  and  successful. 

One  snowy  morning  in  January  Hartmann  in- 
troduced me  to  Lamoureux  who  lived  in  a  garden 
in  the  Cite  Frochot.  I  took  with  me  the  manu- 
script of  Eve,  a  mystical  play  in  three  acts. 

The  hearing  took  place  before  lunch.  And  by 
the  time  we  had  reached  the  coffee  we  were  in 
complete  accord.  The  work  was  to  go  to  re- 
hearsal with  the  following  famous  interpreters: 
Mme.  Brunet  Lafleur  and  Mm.  Lasalle  and 

Les  Concerts  de  I'Harmonie  Sacre  had  Eve  on 
the  program  of  the  eighteenth  of  March,  1875, 
as  had  been  arranged. 

In  spite  of  the  superb  general  rehearsal  in  the 
entirely  empty  hall — that  was  the  reason  I  was 
there,  for  I  had  already  begun  to  avoid  the  excite- 
ments of  public  performances — I  waited  in  a 
small  cafe  nearby  for  the  news  brought  by  an  old 
comrade,  Taffanel,  then  the  first  flute  player  at 
the  Opera  and  at  the  Concerts  de  l'Harmonie  Sa- 
cree.  Ah,  my  dear  Taffanel,  my  departed 



friend,  whom  I  loved  so  well,  how  dear  to  me 
were  your  affection  and  your  talent  when  you  con- 
ducted my  works  at  the  Opera ! 

After  each  part  Taffanel  ran  across  the  street 
and  told  me  the  comforting  news.  After  the 
third  part  he  was  still  encouraging,  and  he  told 
me  hastily  that  it  was  all  over,  that  the  audience 
had  gone,  and  hegged  me  to  come  at  once  and 
thank  Lamoureux. 

I  believed  him,  but  what  a  fraud  he  was !  No 
sooner  was  I  in  the  musicians'  foyer  than  I  was 
blown  like  a  feather  into  my  confreres  arms, 
which  I  grabbed  as  hard  as  I  could,  for  I  now  un- 
derstood the  trick.  But  they  put  me  down  on 
the  stage  before  the  audience  which  was  still 
there  and  still  applauding  and  waving  their  hats 
and  handkerchiefs. 

I  got  up,  bounced  like  a  ball,  and  disappeared 
— furious ! 

I  have  drawn  this  doubtless  exaggerated  pic- 
ture of  my  success  because  the  moments  which 
followed  were  terrible  for  me  and  showed  in  con- 
trast the  vanity  of  the  things  of  this  world. 

A  servant  had  been  searching  for  me  all  the 
evening  as  she  did  not  know  my  whereabouts  in 



Paris  and  she  found  me  at  last  at  the  door  of  the 
concert  hall.  With  tears  in  her  eyes  she  bade 
me  come  to  my  mother  who  was  very  ill.  My 
dear  mother  was  living  in  the  Rue  Notre-Dame- 
de-Lorette.  I  had  sent  her  seats  for  herself  and 
my  sister  and  I  felt  sure  that  both  of  them  had 
Leen  at  the  concert. 

The  servant  and  I  jumped  into  a  cab,  and  when 
I  reached  the  landing,  my  sister,  with  out- 
stretched arms  and  sobbing,  cried,  "Mamma  is 
dead  ...  at  ten  o'clock  this  evening." 

Words  cannot  express  my  deep  grief  at  this 
announcement  of  the  terrible  misfortune  which 
had  come  upon  me.  It  darkened  my  days  just  at 
the  time  when  it  seemed  as  if  a  kind  heaven 
wished  to  drive  away  the  clouds. 

In  accordance  with  my  mother's  last  wishes, 
she  was  embalmed  the  next  day.  My  sister  and 
I,  both  prostrated  by  grief,  were  there,  when  we 
were  surprised  by  the  sudden  appearance  of  Hart- 
mann.  I  dragged  him  swiftly  away  from  the 
painful  sight,  and  he  hurried  out,  but  not  before 
he  had  said, 

"You  are  down  for  the  cross!" 

Poor  mother !  how  proud  she  would  have  been ! 


March,  21,  1875 
Dear  Friend: 

If  I  had  not  lost  your  card  and,  consequently, 
your  address,  for  which  I  searched  for  a  quarter 
of  an  hour  in  the  Testaccio  of  my  papers,  I  would 
have  told  you  yesterday  of  my  keen  joy  and  deep 
emotion  at  hearing  your  Eve  and  at  its  success. 
The  triumph  of  one  of  the  Elect  should  be  a  festi- 
val for  the  Church.  And  you  are  one  of  the 
Elect,  my  dear  friend;  Heaven  has  marked  you 
with  a  sign  as  one  of  its  children;  I  feel  it  in 
everything  which  your  beautiful  work  has  stirred 
in  my  heart.  But  prepare  for  the  martyr's  role 
— for  the  part  which  must  be  played  by  all  who 
come  from  on  high  and  offend  what  comes  from 
below.  Remember  that  when  the  Lord  said, 
"He  is  one  of  the  Elect,"  he  added,  "And  I  will 
show  him  how  greatly  he  must  suffer  in  my 

Wherefore,  my  dear  friend,  spread  forth  your 
wings  boldly,  and  trust  yourself  fearlessly  to  the 
lofty  regions  where  the  lead  of  earth  cannot  hit 
the  bird  of  heaven. 

Yours  with  all  my  heart, 





Death,  which  by  taking  away  my  mother  had 
stricken  me  in  my  dearest  affections,  had  also 
taken  her  mother  from  my  dear  wife.  So  we 
lived  the  next  summer  at  Fontainebleau  in  a  sor- 
rowful house  of  mourning. 

Remembrance  of  the  dear  departed  still  hung 
over  us,  when  I  learned  on  the  fifth  of  June  of 
the  death  of  Bizet.  The  news  came  like  a  thun- 
der clap.  Bizet  had  been  a  sincere  and  affection- 
ate comrade,  and  I  had  a  respectful  admiration 
for  him  although  we  were  about  the  same  age. 

His  life  was  very  hard.  He  felt  the  spirit 
within  him,  and  he  believed  that  his  future  glory 
would  outlive  him.  Carmen.,  famous  for  forty 
years,  appeared  to  those  called  upon  to  judge  a 
work  which  contained  good  things,  although  it 
was  somewhat  incomplete,  and  also — what  did 
they  not  say  at  the  time? — a  dangerous  and  im- 
moral subject. 



What  a  lesson  on  too  hasty  judgments!  .  .  . 

On  returning  to  Fontainebleau  after  the 
gloomy  funeral  I  tried  to  take  up  my  life  again, 
and  work  on  Le  Roi  de  Lahore  on  which  I  had 
already  been  busy  for  several  months. 

The  summer  that  year  was  particularly  hot  and 
enervating.  I  was  so  depressed  that  one  day 
when  a  tremendous  storm  broke  I  felt  almost  an- 
nihilated and  let  myself  fall  asleep. 

But  if  my  body  was  lulled  to  sleep,  my  mind 
remained  active ;  it  seemed  never  to  stop  working. 
Indeed  my  ideas  seemed  to  profit  from  this  invol- 
untary rest  imposed  by  Nature  to  put  themselves 
in  order.  I  heard  as  in  a  dream  my  third  act,  the 
Paradise  of  India,  played  on  the  stage  of  the 
Opera.  The  intangible  performance  had,  as  it 
were,  filled  my  mind.  The  same  phenomenon 
happened  to  me  on  several  subsequent  occasions. 

I  never  would  have  dared  to  hope  it.  That 
day  and  those  which  followed  I  began  to  write 
the  rough  draft  of  the  instrumental  music  for 
that  scene  in  Paradise. 

Between  times  I  continued  to  give  numerous 
lessons  in  Paris,  which  I  found  equally  oppressive 
and  enervating. 

I  had  long  since  formed  the  habit  of  getting 


up  early.  My  work  absorbed  me  from  four 
o'clock  in  the  morning  until  midday  and  lessons 
took  up  the  six  hours  of  the  afternoon.  Most 
of  the  evenings  were  given  to  my  pupils'  parents. 
We  had  music  at  their  homes  and  we  were  made 
much  of  and  entertained.  I  have  been  accus- 
tomed to  working  in  the  morning  like  this  all  my 
life,  and  I  still  continue  the  practice. 

After  spending  the  winter  and  spring  in  Paris 
we  returned  to  our  calm  and  peaceful  family 
home  in  Fontainebleau.  At  the  beginning  of 
the  summer  of  1876  I  finished  the  whole  of  the 
orchestral  score  for  Le  Roi  de  Lahore  on  which  I 
had  now  spent  several  years. 

Finishing  a  work  is  to  bid  good-by  to  the  in- 
describable pleasure  which  the  labor  gives  one ! 

I  had  on  my  desk  eleven  hundred  pages  of 
orchestral  score  and  my  arrangement  for  the 
piano,  which  I  had  just  finished. 

What  would  become  of  this  work  was  the  ques- 
tion I  asked  myself  anxiously.  Would  it  ever 
be  played?  As  a  matter  of  fact  it  was  written 
for  a  large  stage — that  was  the  danger,  the  dark 
spot  in  the  future. 

During  the  preceding  winter  I  had  become  ac- 
quainted with  that  soulful  poet  Charles  Grand- 



mougin.  The  delightful  singer  of  the  Prome- 
nades and  the  impassioned  bard  of  the  French 
Patrie  had  written  a  sacred  legend  in  four  parts, 
La  Vierge,  which  he  intended  for  me. 

I  have  never  been  able  to  let  my  mind  He  idle, 
and  I  at  once  started  in  on  Grandmougin's  beau- 
tiful verses.  Why  then  should  bitter  discour- 
agement arise?  I  will  tell  you  later.  As  a  mat- 
ter of  fact  I  could  stand  it  no  longer.  I  must  see 
Paris  again.  It  seemed  to  me  that  I  would  come 
back  relieved  of  my  weak  heartedness  which  I 
had  undergone  without  noticing  it  much. 

I  went  to  Paris  on  the  twenty-sixth  of  July  in- 
tending to  bother  Hartmann  with  my  troubles  by 
confessing  them  to  him. 

But  I  did  not  find  him  in.  I  strolled  to  the 
Conservatoire  to  pass  the  time.  A  competition 
on  the  violin  was  in  progress.  When  I  got  there, 
they  were  taking  a  ten  minute  rest,  and  I  took 
advantage  of  it  to  pay  my  respects  to  my  master 
Ambroise  Thomas  in  the  large  room  just  off  the 

As  that  place,  then  so  delightfully  alive,  is 
to-day  a  desert  which  has  been  abandoned  for 
other  quarters,  I  will  describe  what  the  place  was 
in  which  I  grew  up  and  lived  for  so  many  years. 



The  room  of  which  I  have  spoken  was  reached 
by  a  great  staircase  entered  through  a  vestibule  of 
columns.  As  one  reached  the  landing  he  saw 
two  large  pictures  done  by  some  painter  or  other 
of  the  First  Empire.  The  door  opposite  opened 
on  a  room  ornamented  by  a  large  mantelpiece  and 
lighted  by  a  glass  ceiling  in  the  style  of  the  an- 
cient temples. 

The  furniture  was  in  the  style  of  Napoleon  I. 

A  door  opened  into  the  office  of  the  director 
of  the  Conservatoire,  a  room  large  enough  to  hold 
ten  or  a  dozen  people  seated  about  the  green 
cloth  table  or  seated  or  standing  at  separate  ta- 
bles. The  decoration  of  the  great  hall  of  the 
Conservatoire  was  in  the  Pompeiian  style  in  har- 
mony with  the  room  I  have  described. 

Ambroise  Thomas  was  leaning  on  the  mantel- 
piece. When  he  saw  me,  he  smiled  joyfully, 
held  out  his  arms  into  which  I  flung  myself,  and 
said  with  an  appearance  of  resignation,  delightful 
at  the  time,  "Accept  it;  it  is  the  first  rung." 

"What  shall  I  accept?"  I  asked. 

"What,  you  don't  know?  They  gave  you  the 
cross  yesterday?" 

fimile  Rety,  the  valued  general  secretary  of 
the  Conservatoire,  took  the  ribbon  from  his  but- 



tonhole  and  put  it  in  mine,  but  not  without  some 
difficulty.  He  had  to  open  it  with  an  ink  eraser 
which  he  found  on  the  jury's  table  near  the  presi- 
dent's desk. 

That  phrase  "the  first  rung,"  was  delightful 
and  profoundly  encouraging. 

Now,  I  had  only  one  urgent  errand — to  see 
my  publisher. 

I  must  confess  to  a  feeling  which  enters  into 
my  tastes  to  such  an  extent  as  to  be  indicative  of 
my  character.  I  was  still  so  youthful  that  I  felt 
uneasy  about  the  ribbon  which  seemed  to  blaze 
and  draw  all  eyes. 

My  face  was  still  moist  from  those  lavish  em- 
braces and  I  was  planning  to  go  home  to  the  coun- 
try when  I  was  stopped  on  the  corner  of  the  Rue 
de  la  Paix  by  M.  Halanzier,  the  director  of  the 
Opera.  I  was  surprised  the  more,  for  I  believed 
that  I  was  only  moderately  thought  of  at  the 
Great  House  as  a  result  of  the  refusal  of  my  bal- 
let, Le  Preneur  de  Rats. 

But  M.  Halanzier  had  a  frank  and  open  mind. 

"What  are  you  doing?"  he  asked.  "I  hear 
nothing  of  you." 

I  may  add  that  he  had  never  spoken  to  me  be- 



"How  could  I  dare  to  speak  of  my  work  to  the 
director  of  the  Opera?"  I  replied,  thoroughly 

"And  if  I  want  you  to?" 

"Well,  I  have  a  simple  work  in  five  acts,  Le  Roi 
de  Lahore,  with  Louis  Gallet." 

"Come  to  my  house,  18  Place  Vendome,  to- 
morrow and  bring  your  manuscript." 

I  rushed  to  tell  Gallet,  and  then  went  home  to 
Fontainebleau,  carrying  my  wife  the  two  bits  of 
news,  one  obvious  in  my  buttonhole,  and  the 
other  the  greatest  hope  I  had  ever  had. 

I  was  at  the  Place  Vendome  the  next  morning 
at  nine  o'clock.  Gallet  was  there  already. 

Halanzier  lived  in  a  beautiful  apartment  on  the 
third  floor  of  the  superb  mansion  which  formed 
one  of  the  corners  of  the  Place  Vendome. 

I  began  the  reading  at  once.  Halanzier 
stopped  me  so  little  that  I  went  right  through  the 
whole  of  the  five  acts.  My  voice  was  gone  .  .  . 
and  my  hands  were  useless  from  fatigue. 

As  I  put  my  manuscript  back  into  my  old 
leather  portfolio  and  Gallet  and  I  prepared  to  go: 

"Well !     So  you  leave  me  no  copy?" 

I  looked  at  Gallet  in  stupefaction. 

"Then  you  intend  to  perform  the  work?" 


"The  future  will  tell." 

I  was  scarcely  reinstalled  in  our  apartment  in 
the  Rue  du  General  Foy  on  my  return  to  Paris  in 
October,  than  the  morning's  mail  brought  me  the 
following  bulletin  from  the  Opera: 

Le  Roi 

2  heures Foyer 

The  parts  had  been  given  to  Mile.  Josephine 
de  Reszke — her  two  brothers  Jean  and  Edouard 
;were  to  ornament  the  stage  later  on — Salomon 
and  Lassalle,  the  last  creating  a  role  for  the  first 

There  was  no  public  dress  rehearsal.  It  was 
not  the  custom  then  as  it  is  nowadays  to  have  a  re- 
hearsal for  the  "couturieres,"  then  for  the  "col- 
onelle"  and,  finally,  the  "general"  rehearsal. 

In  spite  of  the  obviously  sympathetic  demon- 
strations of  the  orchestra  and  all  the  personnel  at 
the  rehearsal,  Halanzier  announced  that  as  they 
were  putting  on  the  first  work  of  a  debutant  at 
the  Opera,  he  wanted  to  look  after  everything 
himself  until  after  the  first  performance. 

I  want  to  record  again  my  deep  gratitude  to 
that  singularly  good  director  who  loved  youth 
and  protected  it. 



The  staging,  scenery  and  costumes  were  of  un- 
heard-of splendor;  the  interpretation  of  the  first 
order.  .  .  . 

The  first  performance  of  Le  Roi  de  Lahore,  the 
twenty-seventh  of  April,  1877,  was  a  glorious 
event  in  my  life.  ^ 

Apropos  of  this  I  recall  that  on  that  morning 
Gustave  Flaubert  left  his  card  with  the  servant, 
without  even  asking  for  me.  On  it  were  these 
words : 

"This  morning  I  pity  you;  to-night  I  shall  envy 

These  lines  show  so  well  the  admirable  under- 
standing of  the  writer  of  Salammbo  and  that  im- 
mortal masterpiece  Madame  Bovary. 

The  next  morning  I  received  the  following 
lines  from  the  famous  architect  and  great  artist 
Charles  Gamier: 

"I  do  not  know  whether  it  is  the  hall  which 
makes  good  music ;  but,  sapristi,  what  I  do  know 
is  that  I  lost  none  of  your  work  and  found  it  ad- 
mirable. That's  the  truth. 



The  magnificent  Opera  had  been  opened  six- 
teen months  previously,  January  5,  1875,  and 



the  critics  had  considered  it  their  duty  to  attack 
the  acoustics  of  that  marvellous  house  built  by 
the  most  exceptionally  competent  man  of  modern 
times.  It  is  true  that  the  criticism  did  not  last, 
for  when  one  speaks  of  Garnier's  magnificent 
work  it  is  in  words  which  are  eloquent  in  their 
simplicity,  "What  a  fine  theater !"  The  hall  ob- 
viously has  not  changed,  but  the  public  which 
pays  to  Gamier  his  just  and  rightful  homage. 



The  performances  of  Le  Roi  de  Lahore  were 
running  on  at  the  Opera  and  they  were  well  at- 
tended and  finely  done.  At  least  that  is  what  I 
heard  for  I  had  already  stopped  going.  Pres- 
ently I  left  Paris  where,  as  I  have  said,  I  devoted 
myself  to  giving  lessons,  and  went  back  to  the 
country  to  work  on  La  Vierge. 

In  the  meantime  I  had  learned  that  the  great 
Italian  publisher  Guilio  Ricordi  had  heard  Le  Roi 
de  Lahore  at  the  Opera  and  had  come  to  terms 
with  Hartmann  for  its  production  in  Italy.  Such 
a  thing  was  really  unique,  for  at  that  time  the  only 
works  translated  into  Italian  and  given  in  that 
country  were  those  of  the  great  masters.  And 
they  had  to  wait  a  long  time  for  their  turn,  while 
it  was  my  good  fortune  to  see  Le  Roi  de  Lahore 
played  on  the  morrow  of  its  first  performance. 

The  first  house  in  Italy  at  which  this  honor  fell 
to  me  was  the  Regio  in  Turin.  What  an  unex- 
pected good  fortune  it  was  to  see  Italy  again,  to 



know  their  theaters  from  more  than  the  outside, 
and  to  go  into  their  wings !  I  found  in  all  this  a 
delight  which  I  cannot  express  and  in  this  state 
of  rapture  I  passed  the  first  months  of  1878. 
Hartmann  and  I  went  to  Italy  on  the  first  of  Feb- 
ruary, 1878. 

With  the  Scala  at  Milan,  the  San  Carlo  at  Na- 
ples, the  Communal  Opera  at  Boulogne,  the  old 
Apollo  at  Rome — since  demolished  and  replaced 
in  popular  favor  by  the  Costanzi — with  the  Per- 
gola at  Florence,  the  Carlo  Felice  at  Genoa,  and 
the  Fenice  at  Venice,  the  beautiful  Regio  Thea- 
ter, built  opposite  the  Madame  Palace  on  the 
Piazza  Castella,  is  one  of  the  most  noted  in  all 
Italy.  It  rivaled  then — as  it  does  now — the 
most  famous  houses  of  that  classic  land  of  the 
arts  to  which  it  was  always  so  hospitable  and  so 

The  manners  at  the  Regio  were  entirely  differ- 
ent from  those  at  Paris  and  were,  as  I  discovered 
later,  much  like  those  in  Germany.  Absolute 
deference  and  punctilious  exactness  are  the  rule, 
not  only  among  the  artistes  but  also  among  the 
singers  of  the  minor  roles.  The  orchestra  obeys 
the  slightest  wish  of  the  director. 

The  orchestra  at  the  Regio  at  that  time  was 


conducted  by  the  master  Pedrotti  who  was  subse- 
quently the  director  of  the  Rossini  Conservatory 
at  Pesaro.  He  was  known  for  his  gay,  viva- 
cious melodies  and  a  number  of  operas,  among 
them  Tutti  in  maschera.  His  death  was  tragic. 
I  can  still  hear  honest  Pedrotti  saying  repeatedly 
to  me: 

"Are  you  satisfied  ?     I  am  so  much." 

We  had  a  famous  tenor  of  the  time,  Signer 
Fanselli.  He  had  a  superb  voice,  but  a  manner- 
ism of  spreading  his  arms  wide  open  in  front  of 
him  with  his  fingers  opened  out.  In  spite  of  the 
fact  that  an  excessive  fondness  for  this  method 
of  giving  expression  is  almost  inevitably  displeas- 
ing, many  other  artists  I  have  known  use  it  to  ex- 
press their  feelings,  at  least  they  think  they  do, 
when,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  they  feel  absolutely 

His  open  hands  had  won  for  this  remarkable 
tenor  the  nickname,  Cinque  e  cinque  fanno  died! 
(Five  and  five  make  ten ! ) 

Apropos  of  this  first  performance  I  will  men- 
tion the  baritone  Mendioroz  and  Signorina  Me- 
cocci  who  took  part  in  it. 

Such  goings  about  became  very  frequent,  for 
scarcely  had  Hartmann  and  I  got  back  to  Paris 



than  we  had  to  start  off  again  for  Rome  where  // 
Re  di  Lahore  had  the  honor  of  a  first  performance 
on  March  21,  1879. 

Here  I  had  still  more  remarkable  artists:  the 
tenor  Barbaccini,  the  baritone  Kashmann,  both 
singers  of  great  merit;  then  Signorina  Mariani, 
an  admirable  singer  and  tragedienne,  and  her 
younger  sister  who  was  equally  charming.  M. 
Giacovacci,  the  director  at  the  Apollo,  was  a 
strange  old  fellow,  very  amusing  and  gay,  es- 
pecially when  he  recalled  the  first  performance 
of  The  Barber  of  Seville  at  the  Argentine  Theater 
in  the  days  of  his  youth.  He  drew  a  most  inter- 
esting picture  of  the  young  Rossini  and  his  vivac- 
ity and  charm.  To  have  written  The  Barber  of 
Seville  and  William  Tell  is  indeed  a  most  striking 
evidence  of  wit  personified  and  also  of  a  keen 

I  profited  by  my  stay  in  Rome  to  revisit  my 
dear  Villa  Medici.  It  amused  me  to  reappear 
there  as  an  author  .  .  .  how  shall  I  say  it? 
Well  (and  so  much  the  worse)  let  us  say,  an  en- 
thusiastically applauded  author. 

I  stopped  at  the  Hotel  de  Rome,  opposite  the 
San  Carlo,  on  the  Corso. 

The  morning  after  the  first  performance,  they 


brought  a  note  to  my  rooms — I  was  hardly 
awake,  for  we  had  come  in  very  late — which  bore 
these  words: 

"The  next  time  you  stay  at  a  hotel,  let  me 

know  beforehand,  for  I  haven't  slept  all  night 

with   all   their   serenading   and   toasting   you! 

What  a  row!     But  I  am  pleased  for  your  sake. 

"Your  old  friend, 

"Du  LOCLE." 

Du  Locle!  How  could  it  be  he!  But  there 
he  was — my  conductor  at  the  birth  of  Don  Cesar 
de  Bazan.  I  hastened  to  embrace  him. 

The  morning  of  March  21  brought  hours  of 
magical  delight  and  alluring  charm.  I  count 
them  as  among  the  best  that  I  remember. 

I  had  obtained  an  audience  with  the  newly 
enthroned  Pope  Leo  XIII.  The  grand  salon 
where  I  was  introduced  was  preceded  by  a  long 
antechamber.  Those  who  had  been  admitted 
like  myself  were  kneeling  in  a  row  on  each  side  of 
the  room.  The  Pope  blessed  the  faithful  with 
his  right  hand  and  spoke  a  few  words  to  them. 
His  chamberlain  told  him  who  I  was  and  why  I 
had  come  to  Rome,  and  the  Sovereign  Pontiff 
added  to  his  benediction  words  of  good  wishes 
for  my  art. 



Leo  XIII  combined  an  unusual  dignity  with  a 
simplicity  which  reminded  me  forcibly  of  Pius 

After  leaving  the  Vatican  I  went  at  eleven 
o'clock  to  the  Quirinal  Palace.  The  Marchese 
di  Villamarina  was  to  present  me  to  Queen 
Margherita.  We  passed  through  a  suite  of  five 
or  six  rooms  and  in  the  one  where  we  waited  was 
a  crape-covered  glass  case  in  which  were  sou- 
venirs of  Victor  Emanuel  who  had  died  only  re- 
cently. There  was  an  upright  piano  between 
the  windows.  The  following  detail  was  almost 
theatrical  in  its  impression.  I  had  noticed  that 
an  usher  was  stationed  at  the  door  of  each  of  the 
salons  through  which  I  had  come,  and  I  heard  a 
distant  voice,  evidently  in  the  first  room,  an- 
nounce loudly,  La  Regina,  then  nearer,  La  Re- 
gina,  then  nearer  still,  La  Regina,  and  again  and 
louder,  La  Regina,  and  finally  in  the  next  salon, 
in  ringing  tones,  La  Regina.  And  the  Queen  ap- 
peared in  the  salon  where  we  were. 

The  Marchese  di  Villamarina  presented  me, 
bowed  to  the  Queen,  and  went  out. 

Her  Majesty,  in  a  charming  voice,  asked  me 
to  excuse  her  for  not  going  to  the  opera  the  eve- 
ning before  to  hear  //  Capolavoro  of  the  French 



master,  and,  pointing  to  the  glass  case,  said, 
"We  are  in  mourning."  Then  she  added,  "As  I 
was  deprived  of  the  evening,  will  you  not  let  me 
hear  some  of  the  motifs  of  the  opera?" 

As  there  was  no  chair  beside  the  piano,  I  began 
to  play  standing.  Then  I  saw  the  Queen  looking 
about  for  a  chair  and  I  sprang  towards  one,  placed 
it  in  front  of  the  piano  and  continued  playing  as 
she  had  asked  so  adorably. 

I  was  much  moved  when  I  left  her  Majesty  and 
I  was  deeply  gratified  by  her  gracious  reception. 
I  passed  through  the  numerous  salons  and  found 
the  Marchese  di  Villamarina  whom  I  thanked 
heartily  for  his  great  courtesy. 

A  quarter  of  an  hour  later  I  was  in  the  Via 
delle  Carozze,  visiting  Menotti  Garibaldi  to  whom 
I  had  a  letter  of  introduction  from  a  friend  in 

That  was  no  ordinary  morning.  Indeed  it 
was  unusual  in  view  of  the  personages  I  had  the 
honor  to  see:  His  Holiness  the  Pope,  her  Majesty 
the  Queen,  and  the  son  of  Garibaldi. 

I  was  presented  during  the  day  to  Prince  Mas- 
simo of  the  oldest  Roman  nobility.  When  I 
asked,  perhaps  indiscreetly  but  with  genuine 
curiosity  nevertheless,  whether  he  were  de- 



scended  from  Emperor  Maximus,  he  replied, 
simply  and  modestly,  "I  do  not  know  certainly, 
but  they  have  been  sure  of  it  in  my  family  for 
eighteen  hundred  years." 

After  the  theater  that  evening  (a  superb  suc- 
cess), I  went  to  supper  at  the  house  of  our  am- 
bassador, the  Duke  de  Montebello.  At  the  re- 
quest of  the  duchess  I  began  to  play  the  same  mo- 
tifs I  had  given  in  the  morning  before  her  Maj- 
esty the  Queen.  The  duchess  smoked,  and  I  re- 
member that  I  smoked  many  cigarettes  while  I 
played.  That  gave  me  the  opportunity,  as  the 
smoke  rose  to  the  ceiling,  to  contemplate  the 
marvellous  paintings  of  the  immortal  Carrache, 
the  creator  of  the  famous  Farnese  Gallery. 

Again,  what  never  to  be  forgotten  hours ! 

I  returned  to  my  hotel  about  three  in  the  morn- 
ing where  the  serenade  with  which  they  enter- 
tained me  kept  my  friend  du  Locle  awake. 

Spring  passed  rapidly  on  account  of  my  memo- 
ries of  my  brilliant  winter  in  Italy.  I  set  to 
work  at  Fontainebleau  and  finished  La  Vierge. 
Then  my  dear  wife  and  I  set  out  for  Milan  and 
the  Villa  d'Este. 

That  was  a  year  of  enthusiasms,  of  pure,  radi- 
ant joy,  and  its  hours  of  unutterable  good  fortune 



left  a  mark  on  my  career,  which  was  never  to  be 

Giulio  Ricordi  had  invited  Mme.  Massenet  and 
me,  together  with  our  dear  daughter,  still  quite 
a  child,  to  spend  the  month  of  August  at  the  Villa 
d'Este  in  that  marvellously  picturesque  country 
about  Lake  Como.  We  found  there  Mme.  Giu- 
ditta  Ricordi,  the  wife  of  our  amiable  and  gra- 
cious host,  their  daughter  Ginette,  a  delightful 
playmate  for  my  little  girl;  and  their  sons  Tito 
and  Manuel,  small  boys  then  but  tall  gentlemen 
since.  We  also  met  there  a  lovely  young  girl, 
a  rose  that  had  as  yet  scarcely  blossomed,  who 
during  our  stay  worked  at  singing  with  a  re- 
nowned Italian  professor. 

Arrigo  Boito,  the  famous  author  of  Mefistole, 
who  was  also  a  guest  at  the  Villa  d'Este,  was  as 
impressed  as  I  was  with  the  unusual  quality  of 
her  voice.  That  prodigious  voice,  already  so 
wonderfully  flexible,  was  that  of  the  future  artiste 
who  was  never  to  be  forgotten  in  her  creation  of 
Lakme  by  the  glorious  and  regretted  Leo  Delibes. 
I  have  named  Marie  Van  Zandt. 

One  evening  as  I  entered  the  Hotel  Bella  Ven- 
ezia,  on  the  Piazza  San  Fedele  at  Milan  (where 
even  to-day  I  should  be  glad  to  alight)  Giulio 



Ricordi  came  to  see  me  and  introduced  me  to  a 
man  of  great  distinction,  an  inspired  poet,  who 
read  me  a  scenario  in  four  acts  on  the  story  of 
Herodias,  which  was  tremendously  interesting. 
That  remarkable  man  of  letters  was  Zanardini,  a 
descendant  of  one  of  the  greatest  families  of  Ven- 

It  is  easy  to  see  how  suggestive  and  inspiring 
the  story  of  the  Tetrach  of  Galilee,  of  Salome,  of 
John,  and  of  Herodias  would  become  under  a  pen 
so  rich  in  colors  as  that  of  the  man  who  had 
painted  it. 

On  the  fifteenth  of  August  during  our  stay  in 
Italy,  Le  Roi  de  Lahore  was  put  on  at  the  Vienza 
Theater,  and  on  the  third  of  October  came  the 
first  performance  at  the  Communal  Theater  at 
Bologna.  That  was  the  reason  for  our  prolonged 
stay  in  Italy. 

Our  return  to  Fontainebleau  followed  imme- 
diately and  I  had  to  take  up  my  normal  life  again 
and  my  unfinished  work. 

To  my  surprise  I  received  a  visit  from  M. 
fcnile  Rety  the  day  after  my  return!  He  came 
from  Ambroise  Thomas  to  offer  me  the  place  of 
professor  of  counterpoint,  fugue  and  composition 
at  the  Conservatoire  to  replace  Frangois  Bazin 



who  had  died  some  months  before.  He  advised 
me  at  the  same  time  to  become  a  candidate  for 
the  Academic  des  Beaux  Arts  as  the  election  of 
a  successor  to  Bazin  was  at  hand. 

What  a  contrast  to  the  months  of  agreeable 
nonsense  and  applause  in  Italy!  I  thought  that 
I  was  forgotten  in  France,  whereas  the  truth  was 
the  direct  opposite. 




I  received  the  official  notice  of  my  nomination 
as  professor  at  the  Conservatoire  and  I  went  to 
Paris.  I  would  have  hardly  imagined  that  I  had 
said  good-by  to  my  beloved  house  at  Fontaine- 
bleau  with  no  hope  of  seeing  it  again. 

The  life  which  had  now  begun  for  me  trans- 
planted my  summers  of  work  in  the  midst  of  quiet 
and  peaceful  solitude — those  summers  which  I 
had  passed  so  happily  far  from  the  noise  and  tu- 
mult of  the  city.  If  books  have  their  destiny  as 
the  poet  says  (habent  sua  fata  libelli) ,  does  not 
each  one  of  us  follow  a  destiny  which  is  just  as 
certain  and  irrevocable?  One  cannot  swim 
against  the  stream.  It  is  easy  to  swim  with  it, 
especially  if  it  carries  one  to  a  longed  for  shore. 

I  gave  my  course  at  the  Conservatoire  twice  a 
week,  on  Tuesdays  and  Fridays  at  half  past  one. 

I  confess  that  I  was  both  proud  and  happy 
to  sit  in  that  chair,  in  the  same  classroom  where 
as  a  child  I  had  received  the  advice  and  lessons 



of  my  master.  I  looked  upon  my  pupils  as  other 
or  as  new  children — grandchildren  rather — who 
received  the  teaching  which  had  come  to  me  and 
which  seemed  to  filter  through  the  memories  of 
the  master  who  had  imbued  me  with  it. 

The  young  people  with  whom  I  had  to  do 
seemed  nearly  my  own  age,  and  I  said  to  them 
by  way  of  encouraging  them  and  urging  them  on 
to  work:  "You  have  but  one  companion  the 
more,  who  tries  to  be  as  good  a  pupil  as  you  are 

It  was  touching  to  see  the  deferential  affection 
which  they  showed  me  from  the  first  day.  I  was 
completely  happy  when  I  surprised  them  some- 
times chatting  and  telling  their  impressions  of 
the  work  given  the  day  before  or  to  be  given  to- 
morrow. At  the  beginning  of  my  professorship 
that  work  was  Le  Roi  de  Lahore. 

Thus  I  continued  for  eigtheen  years  to  be  both 
friend  and  "patron,"  as  they  called  me,  of  a  con- 
siderable number  of  young  composers. 

Since  I  took  such  joy  in  it,  I  may  perhaps  recall 
the  successes  they  won  each  year  in  the  contests 
in  fugue,  and  how  useful  this  teaching  was  to  me, 
for  it  obliged  me  to  be  very  clever,  face  to  face 
with  a  task,  in  finding  quickly  what  should  be 



done  in  accordance  with  the  rigorous  precepts  of 

How  delighted  I  was  for  eighteen  years  when 
nearly  annually  the  Grand  Prix  de  Rome  was 
awarded  to  a  pupil  in  my  class !  I  longed  to  go 
to  the  Conservatoire  and  heap  the  honors  on  my 

I  can  still  see,  at  evening  in  his  peaceful  salon 
with  the  windows  overlooking  the  Conservatoire's 
courtyard — deserted  at  that  hour — the  good  Ad- 
ministrator-General fenile  Rety  listening  to  me 
as  I  told  him  of  my  happiness  in  having  assisted 
in  the  success  of  "my  children." 

A  few  years  ago  I  received  a  touching  expres- 
sion of  their  feeling  toward  me. 

In  the  month  of  December,  1900,  I  saw  come 
to  my  publishers,  where  they  knew  they  could 
find  me,  Lucien  Hillemacher,  since  dead,  alas, 
accompanied  by  a  group  of  old  Grand  Prix.  He 
delivered  to  me  on  parchment  the  signatures  of 
more  than  five  hundred  of  my  old  pupils.  The 
pages  were  bound  into  a  thin  octavo  volume, 
bound  luxuriously  in  Levant  morocco,  spangled 
with  stars.  On  the  fly-leaves  in  brilliant  illumi- 
nation, along  with  my  name,  were  the  two  dates : 



The  signatures  were  preceded  by  the  following 
lines : 

Dear  Master: 

Happy  at  your  nomination  as  Grand  Officer  of 
the  Legion  of  Honor,  your  pupils  unite  in  offer- 
ing you  this  evidence  of  their  deep  and  affection- 
ate gratitude. 

The  names  of  the  Grand  Prix  of  the  Institute 
who  showed  me  their  gratitude  in  this  way  were: 
Hillemacher,  Henri  Rabaud,  Max  D'Ollone,  Al- 
fred Bruneau,  Gaston  Carraud,  G.  Marty,  Andre 
Floch,  A.  Savard,  Croce-Spinelli,  Lucien  Lam- 
bert, Ernest  Moret,  Gustave  Charpentier,  Rey- 
naldo  Hahn,  Paul  Vidal,  Florent  Schmitt,  En- 
esco,  Bemberg,  Laparra,  d'Harcourt,  Malherbe, 
Guy  Ropartz,  Tiersot,  Xavier  Leroux,  Dallier, 
Falkenberg,  Ch.  Silver,  and  so  many  other  dear 
friends  of  the  class ! 

Ambroise  Thomas  saw  that  I  had  no  thought 
of  standing  for  the  Institute  as  he  had  done  me 
the  honor  of  advising  me  and  was  good  enough 
to  warn  me  that  I  still  had  two  days  left  in  which 
to  send  out  the  letter  of  candidature  for  the 
Academic  des  Beaux  Arts.  He  advised  me  to 
make  it  short,  adding  that  the  mention  of  titles 



was  necessary  only  when  one  was  able  to  ignore 
them.  This  sensible  remark  rather  wounded  my 
modesty.  .  .  . 

Election  day  was  fixed  for  Saturday,  November 
30.  I  knew  that  there  were  many  candidates 
and  that  first  and  foremost  among  them  was 
Saint-Saens,  whose  friend  and  great  admirer  I 
was  and  always  have  been. 

I  yielded  to  Ambroise  Thomas  without  the 
slightest  expectation  of  being  elected. 

I  had  spent  the  day  as  usual  giving  lessons  in 
the  various  parts  of  Paris.  That  morning,  how- 
ever, I  had  said  to  Hartmann,  my  publisher,  that 
I  should  be  at  the  house  of  a  pupil,  No.  11,  Rue 
Blanche,  that  evening  between  five  and  six. 
And  I  said,  laughing,  that  he  would  know  where 
to  find  me  to  announce  the  result  whatever  it  was. 
Whereupon  Hartmann  said  grandiloquently,  "If 
you  are  a  member  of  the  Institute  this  evening,  I 
will  ring  twice  and  you  will  understand  me." 

I  was  about  to  begin  work  at  the  piano,  my 
mind  all  on  my  work,  on  the  Promenades  d'un 
Solitaire.,  by  Stephen  Heller  (What  a  dear  mu- 
sician, that  Alfred  de  Musset  of  the  piano,  as 
they  called  him!)  when  two  sharp  rings  of  the 



bell  sounded.     My  heart  stopped.     My  pupil 
could  not  make  out  what  was  the  matter. 

A  servant  dashed  in  and  said,  "There  are  two 
gentlemen  who  want  to  embrace  your  professor." 
Everything  was  explained.  I  went  with  those 
"Messieurs,"  even  more  startled  than  happy,  and 
leaving  my  pupil  probably  better  pleased  than  I 

When  I  reached  home  I  found  that  I  had  been 
preceded  by  my  new  and  famous  colleagues. 
They  had  left  their  congratulations  with  my  con- 
cierge signed  Meissonier,  Lefeul,  Ballu,  Cabanel. 
Meissonier  had  brought  the  report  of  the  sitting 
signed  by  him,  which  showed  the  two  votes,  for 
I  was  elected  on  the  second  ballot.  That  was 
certainly  an  autograph  the  like  of  which  I  would 
not  receive  twice  in  my  life ! 

A  fortnight  later,  according  to  the  custom,  I 
was  introduced  in  the  Salle  des  Seances  of  the 
Academic  des  Beaux-Arts  by  Comte  Delaborde, 
the  permanent  secretary. 

A  new  member  had  to  wear  a  black  coat  and 
a  white  tie,  and  going  to  the  reception  in  dress 
clothes  at  three  o'clock  in  the  afternoon,  one 
would  have  thought  I  was  on  my  way  to  a  wed- 



I  took  my  place  in  the  chair  which  I  still 
occupy.  That  takes  me  back  more  than  thirty- 
three  years ! 

A  few  days  later  I  wanted  to  take  advantage  of 
my  privileges  by  attending  the  reception  of 
Renan.  The  ushers  did  not  know  me  yet,  and  I 
was  the  Benjamin  of  the  Academic.  They  would 
not  believe  me  and  refused  to  let  me  in.  One  of 
my  colleagues,  and  not  the  least  of  them,  Prince 
Napoleon,  who  was  going  in  at  the  same  time, 
told  them  who  I  was. 

While  I  was  making  the  usual  round  of  visits 
of  thanks,  I  called  on  Ernest  Reyer  at  his  pic- 
turesque apartment  in  the  Rue  de  la  Tour  d'Au- 
vergne.  He  opened  the  door  himself  and  was 
much  surprised  to  see  me  for  he  knew  I  must 
know  that  he  had  not  been  altogether  favorable 
to  me.  "I  know,"  I  said,  "that  you  did  not  vote 
for  me.  What  touched  me  was  that  you  did  not 
vote  against  me!"  This  put  Reyer  in  good  hu- 
mor, for  he  said,  "I  am  at  lunch.  Share  my 
fried  eggs  with  me!"  I  accepted  and  we  talked 
a  long  time  about  art  and  its  manifestations. 

For  over  thirty  years  Ernest  Reyer  was  my 
best  and  firmest  friend. 

As  one  might  imagine,  the  Institute  did  not 


sensibly  modify  my  position.  Indeed  it  made  it 
somewhat  more  difficult,  as  I  wanted  to  get  on 
with  the  score  of  Herodiade,  and  so  stopped  sev- 
eral lessons  which  were  my  most  certain  sources 
of  revenue. 

Three  weeks  after  my  election  a  monster  fes- 
tival took  place  at  the  Hippodrome.  More  than 
twenty  thousand  people  took  part.  Gounod  and 
Saint-Saens  conducted  their  own  works.  I  had 
the  honor  of  directing  the  finale  of  the  third  act 
of  Le  Roi  de  Lahore.  Everyone  remembers  the 
prodigious  effect  of  that  festival  which  was  organ- 
ized by  Albert  Vizentini,  one  of  the  best  compan- 
ions of  my  childhood. 

While  I  was  waiting  in  the  green-room  for  my 
turn  to  go  on,  Gounod  came  in  haloed  with  tri- 
umph. I  asked  him  what  he  thought  of  the  audi- 

"I  fancied  that  I  saw  the  Valley  of  Jehoso- 
phat,"  he  said. 

An  amusing  detail  was  told  me  afterwards. 

There  was  a  considerable  crowd  outside  and 
the  people  kept  on  trying  to  get  in  notwithstand- 
ing the  loud  protests  of  those  already  seated. 
Gounod  shouted  so  as  to  be  heard  distinctly,  "I 



will  begin  when  everyone  has  gone  out!"  This 
amazing  exclamation  worked  wonders.  The 
groups  which  had  blocked  the  entrance  and  ap- 
proaches to  the  Hippodrome  recoiled.  They 
vanished  as  if  by  magic. 

The  second  of  the  Concerts  Historiques, 
founded  by  Vaucorbeil,  the  Director  of  the  Na- 
tional Academy  of  Music  at  the  time,  took  place 
at  the  Opera  on  May  20, 1880.  He  gave  my  sa- 
cred legend  La  Vierge.  Mme.  Gabrielle  Krauss 
and  Mile.  Daram  were  the  principals  and  splen- 
did interpreters  they  were. 

That  work  is  a  rather  painful  memory  in  my 
life.  Its  reception  was  cold  and  only  one  frag- 
ment seemed  to  satisfy  the  large  audience  which 
filled  the  hall.  They  encored  three  times  the 
passage  which  is  now  in  the  repertoire  of  many 
concerts,  the  prelude  to  Part  IV,  Le  Dernier  Som- 
meil  de  la  Vierge. 

Some  years  later  the  Societe  des  Concerts  du 
Conservatoire  twice  gave  the  fourth  part  of  La 
Vierge  in  its  entirety.  Mme.  Ai'no  Ackte  was 
really  sublime  in  her  interpretation  of  the  role  of 
the  Virgin.  This  success  was  completely  satis- 
fying to  me ;  I  had  nearly  said,  the  most  precious 
of  revenges. 




My  trips  to  Italy,  journeys  devoted  to  follow- 
ing, if  not  to  the  preparation  of,  the  successive 
performances  of  Le  Roi  de  Lahore  at  Milan,  Pia- 
cenza,  Venice,  Pisa  and  Trieste  on  the  other  side 
of  the  Adriatic,  did  not  prevent  my  working  on 
the  score  of  Herodiade  and  it  was  soon  finished. 

Perhaps  such  wanderings  are  surprising  since 
they  are  so  little  to  my  taste.  Many  of  my  pu- 
pils, however,  have  followed  my  example  in  this 
regard  and  the  reason  is  obvious.  At  the  begin- 
ning of  our  careers  we  have  to  give  hints  to  the 
orchestras,  the  stage  manager,  the  artists  and  cos- 
turners;  the  why  and  wherefore  of  each  scene 
must,  oftentimes,  be  explained,  and  the  tempo,  as 
given  by  the  metronome,  is  little  like  the  true  one. 

I  have  let  such  things  go  for  a  long  time  for 
they  take  care  of  themselves.  It  is  true  that, 
since  I  have  been  known  for  so  many  years,  it 
would  be  difficult  to  make  a  choice  and  decide 
where  I  ought  to  go.  And  where  should  I  begin 



— 'twere  among  my  keenest  desires — personally 
to  express  my  gratitude  to  all  the  directors  and 
artists  who  now  know  my  work.  As  to  the  hints 
I  might  have  given  them,  they  have  gone  ahead 
and  departures  from  the  true  rendering  have  be- 
come rare,  much  more  so  than  in  the  beginning 
when  both  directors  and  artists  ignored  my 
wishes  and  could  not  foresee  them;  in  short, 
when  my  works  were,  to  them,  those  of  an  un- 

I  must  recall,  and  I  do  so  with  sincere  emotion, 
all  I  owe  in  the  great  provincial  houses  to  those 
kind  directors,  so  affectionately  devoted  to  me: 
Graviere,  Saugey,  Villefranck,  Rachet,  and  many 
others  who  can  claim  my  thanks  and  my  most 
grateful  congratulations. 

During  the  summer  of  1879  I  lived  at  the  sea- 
shore at  Pourville  near  Dieppe.  Hartmann,  my 
publisher,  and  Paul  Milliet,  my  collaborator, 
spent  the  Sundays  with  me.  When  I  say  with 
me,  I  abuse  the  words  for  I  kept  company  but  lit- 
tle with  these  excellent  friends.  I  was  accus- 
tomed to  work  fifteen  or  sixteen  hours  a  day, 
sleep  six  hours,  and  my  meals  and  dressing  took 
the  rest  of  the  time.  It  is  only  through  such  tire- 
less labor  continued  without  ceasing  for  years 



that  works  of  great  power  and  scope  can  be  pro- 

Alexander  Dumas,  the  Younger,  whose  modest 
contemporary  I  had  been  at  the  Institute  for  a 
year,  lived  in  a  superb  property  at  Puys  near 
Dieppe.  His  being  near  often  furnished  me  with 
delightful  pleasures.  I  was  never  so  happy  as 
when  he  came  for  me  at  seven  o'clock  in  the  eve- 
ning to  take  me  to  dinner.  He  brought  me  back 
at  nine  o'clock  so  as  not  to  take  up  my  time.  He 
wanted  me  to  have  a  friendly  rest,  and  indeed  it 
was  a  rest  which  was  both  exquisite  and  alto- 
gether delightful.  It  is  easy  to  imagine  what  a 
treat  the  vivacious,  sparkling,  alluring  conversa- 
tion of  the  celebrated  Academician  was  to  me. 

How  I  envied  him  then  for  those  artistic  joys 
which  he  had  tasted  and  which  I  was  to  know 
later!  He  received  and  kept  his  interpreters  at 
his  home  and  made  them  work  on  their  parts. 
At  this  time  Mme.  Pasca,  the  superb  comedienne, 
was  his  guest. 

The  score  of  Herodiade  was  finished  at  the  be- 
ginning of  1881.  Hartmann  and  Paul  Milliet 
advised  me  to  inform  the  directorate  of  the  Opera. 
The  three  years  I  had  given  to  Herodiade  had 
been  one  uninterrupted  joy  to  me.  They  were 



marked  by  a  never  to  be  forgotten  and  unex- 
pected concentration. 

In  spite  of  the  dislike  I  have  always  had  for 
knocking  at  the  doors  of  a  theater,  I  had,  never- 
theless, to  decide  to  speak  of  this  work  and  I  went 
to  the  Opera  and  had  an  interview  with  M.  Vau- 
corbeil,  the  Director  of  the  National  Academy  of 
Music.  Here  is  the  conversation  I  was  honored 

"My  dear  Director,  as  the  Opera  has  been  in 
a  small  way  my  house  with  Le  Roi  de  Lahore, 
permit  me  to  speak  of  a  new  work,  Herodiade." 

"Who  is  your  librettist?" 

"Paul  Milliet,  a  man  of  considerable  talent 
whom  I  like  immensely." 

"I  like  him  immensely  too ;  but  with  him  one 
needs  .  .  .  (thinking  of  a  word)  ...  a  car- 


"A  carcassier!"  I  replied  in  utter  astonish- 
ment; "a  carcassier!  What  kind  of  an  animal 
is  that?" 

"A  carcassier"  added  the  eminent  director, 
sententiously,  "a  carcassier  is  one  who  knows 
how  to  fix  up  in  solid  fashion  the  carcass  of  a 
piece,  and  I  may  add  that  you  are  not  enough  of 
a  carcassier  in  the  strictest  sense  of  the  word. 



Bring  me  another  work  and  the  National  Theater 
of  the  Opera  will  be  open  to  you." 

I  understood.  The  Opera  was  closed  to  me, 
and  some  days  after  this  painful  interview  I 
learned  that  the  scenery  of  Le  Roi  de  Lahore  had 
been  relegated  irrevocably  to  the  storehouse  in 
the  Rue  Richer — which  meant  the  final  abandon- 

One  day  that  same  summer  I  was  walking  on 
the  Boulevard  des  Capuchines,  not  far  from  the 
Rue  Daunou;  my  publisher,  George  Hartmann, 
lived  in  a  ground-floor  apartment  at  the  end  of 
the  court  at  No.  20  of  this  street.  My  thoughts 
were  terribly  dark.  I  went  along  with  careworn 
face  and  fainting  heart  deploring  the  deceitful 
promises  the  directors  had  sprinkled  on  me  like 
holy  water,  when  I  was  suddenly  saluted  and 
stopped  by  one  whom  I  recognized  as  M.  Cala- 
bresi,  director  of  the  Theatre  Royal  de  la  Monnaie 
at  Brussels. 

I  stopped  nonplussed.  Must  I  put  him  too  in 
my  collection  of  wooden-faced  directors? 

"I  know,"  said  M.  Calabresi,  as  he  accosted 
me,  "that  you  have  a  great  work,  Herodiade. 
If  you  will  give  it  to  me,  I  will  put  it  on  at  once 
at  the  Theatre  de  la  Monnaie." 
k  127 


"But  you  don't  know  it,"  I  said. 

"I  would  never  dream  of  asking  a  hearing — of 

"Well,"  I  replied  at  once,  "I  will  inflict  it  on 

"But  I  am  going  back  to  Brussels  to-morrow 

"This  evening,  then,"  I  retorted.  "I  shall 
expect  you  at  eight  o'clock  in  Hartmann's  shop. 
It  will  be  closed  by  that  time  ...  we  shall  be 

I  hurried  to  Hartmann's,  radiant,  and  told  him, 
laughing  and  crying,  what  had  happened  to  me. 

A  piano  was  brought  immediately,  and  Paul 
Milliet  was  hurriedly  informed. 

Alphonse  de  Rothschild,  my  colleague  at  the 
Academic  des  Beaux  Arts,  knew  that  I  had  to  go 
to  Brussels  very  often  for  the  rehearsals  of 
Herodiade.  They  were  about  to  begin  at  the 
Theatre  Royal  de  la  Monnaie,  and  he  wanted  me 
to  avoid  delays  at  the  stations  so  he  gave  me  a 

They  became  so  accustomed  to  seeing  me  cross 
the  frontier  at  Feignies  and  Quevy  that  I  became 
a  real  friend  of  the  customs'  officers,  especially  of 
those  on  the  Belgian  side.  I  remember  that  to 



thank  them  for  their  kind  attentions  I  sent  them 
•seats  for  the  Theatre  de  la  Monnaie. 

A  real  ceremony  took  place  at  the  Theatre 
Royal  in  the  month  of  October  of  this  same  year 
1881.  As  a  matter  of  fact  Herodiade  was  the 
first  French  work  to  be  created  on  the  superb 
stage  of  the  capital  of  Belgium. 

On  the  appointed  day,  my  two  excellent  di- 
rectors, Stoumon  and  Calabresi,  went  with  me 
as  far  as  the  great  public  foyer.  It  was  a  vast 
place  with  gilt  paneling  and  was  lighted  from  the 
colonnaded  peristyle  of  the  theater  on  the  Place 
de  la  Monnaie.  On  the  other  side  of  the  Place 
(a  relic  of  old  Brussels)  was  the  Mint  and,  in  a 
corner,  the  Stock  Exchange.  These  buildings 
have  since  disappeared  and  have  been  replaced 
by  a  magnificent  Post  Office.  The  Exchange  has 
been  moved  to  a  magnificent  palace  a  short  ways 

In  the  middle  of  the  foyer  to  which  I  was  taken 
was  a  grand  piano  about  which  there  were  twenty 
chairs  arranged  in  a  semi-circle.  Besides  the 
directors,  there  were  my  publisher  and  my  col- 
laborator, as  well  as  the  artists  we  had  selected 
to  create  the  parts.  At  the  head  of  these  artists 
was  Martha  Duvivier,  whose  talent,  fame,  and 



beauty  fitted  her  for  the  role  of  Salome;  Mile. 
Blanche  Deschamps,  later  the  wife  of  the  famous 
orchestra  leader  Leon  Jehin,  had  the  role  of 
Herodiade;  Vernet,  Jean;  Manoury,  Herod;  the 
elder  Gresse,  Phanuel.  I  went  to  the  piano, 
turned  my  back  towards  the  windows,  and  sang 
all  the  roles  including  the  choruses. 

I  was  young,  eager,  happy,  and,  I  add  to  my 
shame,  very  greedy.  But  if  I  accuse  myself,  it 
is  to  excuse  myself — for  leaving  the  piano  so 
often  to  get  a  bite  at  a  table  laden  with  exquisite 
food  spread  out  on  a  plentiful  buffet  in  the  same 
foyer.  Every  time  I  got  up,  the  artists  stopped 
me  as  if  to  say,  "Have  pity.  .  .  .  Keep  on.  .  .  . 
Continue.  .  .  .  Don't  stop  again."  I  ate  al- 
most all  the  food  which  had  been  prepared  for 
us  all.  The  artists  were  so  much  pleased  that 
they  thought  more  of  embracing  me  than  of  eat- 
ing. Why  should  I  complain? 

I  lived  at  the  Hotel  de  la  Poste,  Rue  Fosse- 
aux-Loups,  beside  the  theater.  In  the  same 
room,  on  the  ground  floor  on  the  corner  of  the 
hotel  overlooking  the  Rue  d' Argent,  I  wrote,  the 
following  autumn,  the  rough  draft  of  the  Sem- 
inaire  act  of  Manon.  Later  on  I  preferred  to  live 
in  the  dear  kindly  Hotel  du  Grand-Monarque, 



Rue  des  Fripiers,  and  I  continued  to  do  so  until 

This  hotel  plays  a  part  in  my  deepest  mem- 
ories. I  lived  there  often  with  Reyer,  the  author  J 
of  Sigurd  and  of  Salammbo,  my  colleague  at 
the  Academic  des  Beaux-Arts.  There,  we  both 
lost  our  collaborator  and  friend  Ernest  Blau. 
He  died  here,  and  in  spite  of  the  custom  that  no 
funeral  black  shall  be  hung  in  front  of  a  hotel, 
Mile.  Wanters,  the  proprietress,  insisted  that  the 
obsequies  should  be  public  and  should  not  be 
concealed  from  the  people  who  lived  there.  In 
the  salon  among  strangers  we  said  the  tender 
words  of  farewell  to  the  collaborator  on  Sigurd 
and  Esclarmonde. 

A  grim  detail!  Our  poor  friend  Blau  dined 
the  evening  of  his  death  at  the  house  of  Stoumon, 
the  director.  As  he  was  early,  he  stopped  in  the 
Rue  des  Sablons  to  look  at  some  luxurious  cof- 
fins displayed  in  an  undertaker's  shop.  As  we 
had  just  paid  our  last  farewell  and  had  placed 
the  mortal  remains  of  Blau  in  a  temporary  vault 
beside  the  casket  of  a  young  girl,  which  was  cov- 
ered with  white  roses,  one  of  the  bearers  observed 
that  if  he  had  been  consulted  the  deceased  could 
not  have  chosen  a  better  neighborhood.  The 



head  undertaker  reflected:  "We  have  done 
things  well.  M.  Blau  noticed  a  fine  coffin  and  we 
let  him  have  it  cheap." 

As  we  came  from  that  vast  cemetery,  com- 
paratively empty  at  that  time,  we  were  all  im- 
pressed by  the  poignant  grief  of  Mme.  Jeanne 
Raunay,  the  great  artiste.  She  walked  slowly  by 
the  side  of  the  great  master  Gevaert. 

Oh,  mournful  winter  day ! 

The  rehearsals  of  Herodiade  went  on  at  the 
Monnaie.  They  were  full  of  delirious  joy  and 
surprises  for  me.  Its  success  was  considerable. 
Here  is  what  I  find  in  the  papers  of  the  times. 

At  last  the  great  night  came. 

From  the  night  before — Sunday — the  public 
formed  lines  at  the  entrance  to  the  theater  (the 
cheaper  seats  were  not  sold  in  advance  at  that 
time).  The  ticket  sellers  spent  the  whole  night 
in  this  way,  and  while  some  sold  their  places  in 
line  at  a  high  price  on  Monday  morning,  others 
held  on  and  sold  places  in  the  pit  for  sixty  francs 
on  the  average.  A  stall  cost  one  hundred  and 
fifty  francs. 

That  evening  the  auditorium  was  taken  by 

Before  the  curtain  rose,  the  Queen  entered 


her  stage  box  accompanied  by  two  ladies  of  honor 
and  Captain  Chretien,  the  King's  orderly. 

In  the  neighboring  box  were  their  Royal  High- 
nesses the  Count  and  Countess  of  Flanders,  ac- 
companied by  the  Baron  Van  den  Bossch  d'Hylis- 
sem  and  Count  Oultremont  de  Duras,  grand  mas- 
ter of  the  princely  household. 

In  the  Court  Boxes  were  Jules  Devaux,  chief 
of  the  King's  cabinet;  Generals  Goethals  and 
Goffinet,  aides-de-camp;  Baron  Lunden,  Colonel 
Baron  Anethan,  Major  Donny,  Captain  Wycker- 
slooth,  the  King's  orderlies. 

In  the  principal  boxes:  M.  Antonin  Proust, 
Minister  of  Fine  Arts  in  France,  with  Baron 
Beyens,  Belgian  Minister  to  Paris,  the  heads  of 
the  cabinet,  and  Mme.  Frere  Orban,  etc. 

In  the  lower  stage  box:  M.  Buls,  recently 
elected  Burgomaster,  and  the  aldermen. 

In  the  stalls  and  balcony  were  numerous  peo- 
ple from  Paris:  the  composers,  Reyer,  Saint- 
Saens,  Benjamin  Godard,  Joncieres,  Guiraud, 
Serpette,  Duvernois,  Julien  Porchet,  Wormser, 
Le  Borne,  Lecocq,  etc.,  etc. 

This  brilliant  emotional  audience,  said  the 
chronicles  of  the  time,  made  the  work  a  de- 
lirious success. 

Between  the  second  and  the  third  acts  Queen 
Marie  Henriette  summoned  the  composer  to  her 
box  and  congratulated  him  warmly,  as  well  as 



Reyer  whose  Statue  had  just  been  given  at  the 

The  enthusiasm  swelled  crescendo  to  the  end 
of  the  evening.  The  last  act  ended  amid  cheers. 
There  were  loud  calls  for  the  composer  and  the 
curtain  was  raised  several  times,  but  the  "author" 
did  not  appear.  As  the  audience  was  unwilling 
to  leave  the  house,  the  stage  manager,  Lapissida, 
who  had  staged  the  work,  finally  had  to  announce 
that  the  author  had  left  as  soon  as  the  perform- 
ance ended. 

Two  days  after  the  Premiere  the  composer  was 
invited  to  dine  at  Court  and  a  royal  decree  ap- 
peared in  the  Moniteur  naming  him  Chevalier  de 
1'Ordre  de  Leopold. 

The  dazzling  success  of  the  first  performance 
was  trumpeted  through  the  European  press, 
which,  almost  without  exception,  praised  it  in 
enthusiastic  terms.  As  to  the  enthusiasm  of  the 
first  days  it  continued  persistently  through  fifty- 
five  consecutive  performances,  which,  according 
to  the  papers,  realized  four  thousand  francs  every 
evening  above  the  subscriptions. 

Herodiade,  which  made  its  first  appearance  on 
the  stage  of  the  Monnaie  December  19,  1881, 
under  the  exceptionally  brilliant  circumstances 
just  quoted  from  the  newspapers  of  Belgium  as 



well  as  of  other  countries,  reappeared  at  this 
theater,  after  many  revivals,  during  the  first  fort- 
night of  November,  1911 — nearly  thirty  years 
later.  Herodiade  long  ago  passed  its  hundredth 
performance  at  Brussels. 

And  I  was  already  thinking  of  a  new  work. 




One  autumn  morning  in  1881  I  was  much  dis- 
turbed, even  anxious.  Carvalho,  the  director  of 
the  Opera-Comique,  had  entrusted  to  me  the 
three  acts  of  Phoebe  by  Henri  Meilhac.  I  had 
read  and  re-read  them,  but  nothing  in  them  ap- 
pealed to  me;  I  clashed  with  the  work  which  I 
had  to  do;  I  was  nervous  and  impatient. 

With  fine  bravery  I  went  to  see  Meilhac.  The 
happy  author  of  so  many  delightful  works,  of 
so  many  successes,  was  in  his  library,  among  his 
rare  books  in  marvellous  bindings,  a  fortune 
piled  up  in  his  rooms  on  the  mezzanine  floor  in 
which  he  lived  at  30  Rue  Drouot. 

I  can  still  see  him  writing  on  a  small  round 
table  beside  a  large  table  of  the  purest  Louis  XIV 
style.     He  had  hardly  seen  me  than  he  smiled 
his  good  smile,  as  if  pleased,  in  the  belief  that 
I  brought  news  of  our  Phoebe. 
"Is  it  finished?"  he  asked. 
I  retorted  illico  to  this  greeting,  in  a  less  as- 
sured tone: 



"Yes,  it  is  finished;  we  will  never  speak  of  it 

A  lion  in  his  cage  could  not  have  been  more 
abashed.  My  perplexity  was  extreme;  I  saw  a 
void,  nothingness,  about  me,  when  the  title  of  a 
work  struck  me  as  a  revelation. 

"Manon!"  I  cried,  pointing  to  one  of  Meil- 
hac's  books. 

"Manon  Lescaut,  do  you  mean  Manon  Les- 

"No,  Manon,  Manon  short,  Manon,  it  is 

Meilhac  had  separated  from  Dudovic  Halevy 
a  little  while  before  and  had  associated  himself 
with  Philippe  Gille,  that  fine,  delightful  mind,  a 
tender-hearted  and  charming  man. 

"Come  to  lunch  with  me  to-morrow  at  Va- 
chette's,"  said  Meilhac,  "and  I  will  tell  you  what 
I  have  done  .  .  ." 

It  is  easy  to  imagine  whether  in  keeping  this 
engagement  I  had  more  curiosity  in  my  heart  or 
appetite  in  my  stomach.  I  went  to  Vachette's 
and  there  to  my  inexpressible  and  delightful  sur- 
prise I  found  beneath  my  napkin — the  first  two 
acts  of  Manon.  The  other  three  acts  followed 
within  a  few  days. 



The  idea  of  writing  this  work  had  haunted  me 
for  a  long  time.  Now  the  dream  was  realized. 

Although  I  was  much  excited  by  the  rehearsals 
of  Herodiade  and  greatly  upset  by  my  frequent 
trips  to  Brussels,  I  was  already  at  work  on  Manon 
in  the  summer  of  1881. 

Meilhac  went  to  live  that  summer  in  the  Pavil- 
lion  Henri  IV  at  Saint-Germain.  I  used  to  sur- 
prise him  there  about  five  o'clock  in  the  after- 
noon, when  I  knew  the  day's  work  would  be  done. 
Then,  as  we  walked,  we  worked  out  new  arrange- 
ments in  the  words  of  the  opera.  Here  we  de- 
cided on  the  Seminaire  act,  and,  to  bring  off  a 
greater  contrast  at  the  end  of  it,  I  demanded  the 
act  of  Transylvania. 

How  pleased  I  was  in  this  collaboration,  in 
that  work  in  which  we  exchanged  ideas  with  never 
a  clash,  in  the  mutual  desire  of  reaching  perfec- 
tion if  possible. 

Philippe  Gille  shared  in  this  useful  collabora- 
tion from  time  to  time,  and  his  presence  was  dear 
to  me. 

What  tender,  pleasing  memories  I  have  of  this 
time  at  Saint-Germain,  with  its  magnificent  ter- 
race, and  the  luxuriant  foliage  of  its  beautiful 



forest.  My  work  was  well  along  when  I  had  to 
return  to  Brussels  at  the  beginning  of  the  sum- 
mer of  1882.  During  my  different  sojourns  at 
Brussels  I  made  a  delightful  friend  in  Frederix, 
who  showed  rare  mastery  of  the  pen  in  his 
dramatic  and  lyric  criticism  in  the  columns  of  the 
Independance  beige.  He  occupied  a  prominent 
position  in  journalism  in  his  own  country  and 
was  highly  appreciated  as  well  by  the  French 

He  was  a  man  of  great  worth,  endowed  with 
a  charming  character.  His  expressive,  spirituel, 
open  countenance  rather  reminded  me  of  the  old- 
est of  the  Coquelins.  He  was  among  the  first 
of  those  dear  good  friends  I  have  known  whose 
eyes  have  closed  in  the  long  sleep,  alas !  and  who 
are  no  more  either  for  me  or  for  those  who  loved 

Our  Salome,  Martha  Duvivier,  had  continued 
to  sing  the  role  in  Herodiade  throughout  the  new 
season,  and  had  installed  herself  for  the  summer 
in  a  country  house  near  Brussels.  My  friend 
Frederix  carried  me  off  there  one  day  and,  as  I 
had  the  manuscript  of  the  first  acts  of  Manon 
with  me,  I  risked  an  intimate  reading  before  him 



and  our  beautiful  interpreter.  The  impression 
I  took  away  with  me  was  an  encouragement  to 
keep  on  with  the  work. 

The  reason  I  returned  to  Belgium  at  this  time 
was  that  I  had  been  invited  to  go  to  Holland  un- 
der conditions  which  were  certainly  amusing. 

A  Dutch  gentleman,  a  great  lover  of  music, 
with  phlegm  more  apparent  than  real,  as  is  often 
the  case  with  those  Rembrandt's  country  sends 
us,  made  me  the  most  singular  visit,  as  unex- 
pected as  it  well  could  be.  He  had  learned  that 
I  was  working  on  the  romance  of  the  Abbe  Pre- 
vost,  and  he  offered  to  install  my  penates  at  the 
Hague,  in  the  very  room  in  which  the  Abbe  had 
lived.  I  accepted  the  offer,  and  I  went  and  shut 
myself  up — this  was  during  the  summer  of  1882 
— in  the  room  which  the  author  of  Les  Memories 
d'un  homme  de  qualite  had  occupied.  His  bed, 
a  great  cradle,  shaped  like  a  gondola,  was  still 

The  days  slipped  by  at  the  Hague  in  dream- 
ing and  strolling  over  the  dunes  of  Schleveningin 
or  in  the  woods  around  the  royal  residence. 
There  I  made  delightfully  exquisite  little  friends 
of  the  deer  who  brought  me  the  fresh  breath  of 
their  damp  muzzles. 



It  was  now  the  spring  of  1883  I  had  re- 
turned to  Paris  and,  as  the  work  was  finished,  an 
appointment  was  made  at  M.  Carvalho's.  I 
found  there  our  director,  Mme.  Miolan  Car- 
valho,  Meilhac,  and  Philippe  Gille.  Manon  was 
read  from  nine  in  the  evening  until  midnight. 
My  friends  appeared  to  be  delighted. 

Mme.  Carvalho  embraced  me  joyfully,  and 
kept  repeating, 

"Would  that  I  were  twenty  years  younger!" 

I  consoled  the  great  artiste  as  best  I  could. 
I  wanted  her  name  on  the  score  and  I  dedicated 
it  to  her. 

We  had  to  find  a  heroine  and  many  names  were 
suggested.  The  male  roles  were  taken  by  Tala- 
zac,  Taskin  and  Cobalet — a  superb  cast.  But 
no  choice  could  be  made  for  Manon.  Many  had 
talent,  it  was  true,  and  even  great  fame,  but  I 
did  not  feel  that  a  single  artist  answered  for  the 
part  as  I  wanted  it  and  could  play  the  perfidious 
darling  Manon  with  all  the  heart  I  had  put  into 

However,  I  found  a  young  artist,  Mme.  Vail- 
lant  Couturier,  who  had  such  attractive  vocal 
qualities  that  I  trusted  her  with  a  copy  of  sev- 
eral passages  of  the  score.  I  made  her  work  at 



them  at  my  publisher's.     She  was  indeed  my 
first  Manon. 

They  were  playing  at  this  time  at  Les  Nou- 
veautes  one  of  Charles  Lecocq's  great  successes. 
My  great  friend,  Marquis  de  la  Valette,  a  Parisian 
of  the  Parisians,  dragged  me  there  one  evening. 
Mile.  Vaillant — later  Mme.  Couturier — the 
charming  artiste  of  whom  I  have  spoken,  played 
the  leading  part  adorably.  She  interested  me 
greatly ;  to  my  eyes  she  greatly  resembled  a  young 
flower  girl  on  the  Boulevard  Capucines.  I  had 
never  spoken  to  this  delightful  young  girl  (proh 
pudor)  but  her  looks  obsessed  me  and  her  mem- 
ory accompanied  me  constantly;  she  was  exactly 
the  Manon  I  had  had  in  my  mind's  eye  during 
my  work. 

I  was  carried  away  by  the  captivating  artiste 
of  Les  Nouveautes,  and  I  asked  to  speak  to  the 
friendly  director  of  the  theater,  a  free  and  open 
man,  and  an  incomparable  artist. 

"Illustrious  master"  he  began,  "what  good 
wind  brings  you  ?  You  are  at  home  here,  as  you 

"I  came  to  ask  you  to  let  me  have  Mile.  Vail- 
lant for  a  new  opera." 

"Dear  man,  what  you  want  is  impossible;  I 


need  Mile.  Vaillant.     I  can't  let  you  have  her." 

"Do  you  mean  it?" 

"Absolutely,  but  I  think  that  if  you  would 
write  a  work  for  my  theater,  I  would  let  you  have 
this  artiste.  Is  it  a  bargain,  bibi?" 

Matters  stayed  there  with  only  vague  prom- 
ises on  both  sides. 

While  this  dialogue  was  going  on,  I  noticed 
that  the  excellent  Marquis  de  La  Valette  was 
much  occupied  with  a  pretty  gray  hat  covered 
with  roses  passing  back  and  forth  in  the  foyer. 

All  at  once  I  saw  the  pretty  hat  coming  to- 
wards me. 

"So  a  debutant  no  longer  recognizes  a  debu- 

"Heilbronn!"  I  exclaimed. 


Heilbronn  recalled  the  dedication  written  on 
the  first  work  I  had  done  and  in  which  she  had 
made  her  first  appearance  on  the  stage. 

"Do  you  still  sing?" 

"No,  I  am  rich,  but  nevertheless —  Shall  I 
tell  you? — I  miss  the  stage.  It  haunts  me. 
Oh,  if  I  could  only  find  a  good  part!" 

"I  have  one  in  Manon." 

"Manon  Lescaut?" 



"No,  Manon.     That  is  all." 

"May  I  hear  the  music?" 

"When  you  like." 

"This  evening?" 

"Impossible,  it  is  nearly  midnight." 

"What?  I  can't  wait  till  morning.  I  feel 
that  there  is  something  in  it.  Go  and  get  the 
score.  You  will  find  me  in  my  apartment  (the 
artiste  lived  in  the  Champs  filysees)  with  the 
piano  open  and  the  lights  lit." 

I  did  as  she  said. 

I  went  home  and  got  the  score.  Half-past 
four  had  struck  when  I  sang  the  final  bars  of 
Manon's  death. 

During  my  rendering  Heilbronn  was  moved  to 
tears.  I  heard  her  sigh  through  her  sobs,  "It  is 
my  life  .  .  .  that  is  my  life." 

This  time,  as  ever  has  been  the  case,  the  secpiel 
showed  that  I  was  right  to  wait,  to  take  time  in 
choosing  an  artist  who  would  have  to  live  my 

The  day  after  he  heard  Manon,  Carvalho 
signed  the  contract. 

The  following  year,  after  more  than  eighty 
consecutive  performances,  I  learned  of  Marie 
Heilbronn's  death!  .  .  . 



I  preferred  to  stop  the  performances  rather 
than  to  see  it  sung  by  another.  Some  time  after- 
wards the  Opera-Comique  went  up  in  flames. 
Manon  was  not  given  again  for  ten  years.  Dear 
unique  Sybil  Sanderson  took  up  the  work  at  the 
Opera-Comique  and  she  played  in  the  two-hun- 
dredth performance. 

A  glory  was  reserved  for  me  on  the  five  hun- 
dredth performance.  Manon  was  sung  by 
Marguerite  Carre.  A  few  months  ago  this  cap- 
tivating, exquisite  artist  was  applauded  on  the 
evening  of  the  740th  performance. 

In  passing  I  want  to  pay  tribute  to  the  beauti- 
ful artistes  who  have  taken  the  part.  I  will  men- 
tion Miles.  Mary  Garden,  Geraldine  Farrar,  Lina 
Cavalieri,  Mme.  Brejean-Silver,  Miles.  Courte- 
nay,  Genevieve  Vix,  Mmes.  Edvina  and  Nicot- 
Vauchelet,  and  still  other  dear  artistes.  They 
will  pardon  me  if  all  their  names  do  not  come  to 
my  grateful  pen  at  the  moment. 

The  Italian  Theatre  (Maurel's  Season),  as  I 
have  already  said,  put  on  Herodiade  two  weeks 
after  the  first  performance  of  Manon,  with  the 
following  admirable  artists:  Fides  Devries, 
Jean  de  Reszke,  Victor  Maurel,  Edouard  de 



As  I  write  these  lines  in  1911,  Herodiade  con- 
tinues its  career  at  the  Theatre-Lyrique  de  la 
Gaite  (under  the  management  of  the  Isola 
brothers)  who  put  on  the  work  in  1903  with  the 
famous  Emma  Calve.  The  day  after  the  first 
performance  of  Herodiade  in  Paris  I  received 
these  lines  from  our  illustrious  master,  Gounod: 

Sunday,  February  3,  '84. 
My  dear  Friend: 

The  noise  of  your  success  with  Herodiade 
reaches  me;  but  I  lack  that  of  the  work  itself, 
and  I  shall  go  to  hear  it  as  soon  as  possible,  prob- 
ably Saturday.     Again  new  congratulations,  and 
Good  luck  to  you, 


Meanwhile  Marie  Magdeleine  went  on  its 
career  in  the  great  festivals  abroad.  I  recall  the 
following  letter  which  Bizet  wrote  me  some  years 
before  with  deep  pride. 

Our  school  has  not  produced  anything  like  it. 
You  give  me  the  fever,  brigand. 

You  are  a  proud  musician,  I'll  wager. 

My  wife  has  just  put  Marie  Magdeleine  under 
lock  and  key ! 

That  detail  is  eloquent,  is  it  not? 

The  devil!  You've  become  singularly  dis- 



As  to  that,  believe  me  that  no  one  is  more  sin- 
cere in  his  admiration  and  in  his  affection  than 


That  is  the  testimony  of  my  excellent  comrade 
and  affectionate  friend,  George  Bizet — a  friend 
and  comrade  who  would  have  remained  stead- 
fast had  not  blind  destiny  torn  him  from  us  in 
the  full  bloom  of  his  prodigious  and  marvelous 

Still  in  the  dawn  of  life  when  he  passed  from 
this  world,  he  could  have  compassed  everything 
in  the  art  to  which  he  devoted  himself  with  so 
much  love. 




As  is  my  custom,  I  did  not  wait  for  Motions 
fate  to  be  decided  before  I  began  to  plague  my 
publisher,  Hartmann,  to  wake  up  and  find  me  a 
new  subject.  I  had  hardly  finished  my  plaint, 
to  which  he  listened  in  silence  with  a  smile  on 
his  lips,  than  he  went  to  a  desk  and  took  out  five 
books  of  manuscript  written  on  the  yellow  paper 
which  is  well  known  to  copyists.  It  was  Le  Cid, 
an  opera  in  five  acts  by  Louis  Gallet  and  Edouard 
Blatt.  As  he  offered  me  the  manuscript,  Hart- 
mann made  this  comment  to  which  I  had  noth- 
ing to  reply,  "I  know  you.  I  had  foreseen  this 

I  was  bound  to  be  pleased  at  writing  a  work 
based  on  the  great  Corneille's  masterpiece,  the 
libretto  due  to  the  fellow  workers  I  had  had  in 
the  competition  for  the  Imperial  Opera,  La  Coup 
de  TOI  de  Thule,  in  which,  as  I  have  said,  I  failed 
to  win  the  first  prize. 

I  learned  the  words  by  heart,  as  I  always  did. 



I  wanted  to  have  it  constantly  in  my  thoughts, 
without  being  compelled  to  keep  the  text  in  my 
pocket,  so  as  to  be  able  to  work  at  it  away  from 
home,  in  the  streets,  in  society,  at  dinner,  at  the 
theater,  anywhere  that  I  might  find  time.  I  get 
away  from  a  task  with  difficulty,  especially  when, 
as  in  this  case,  I  am  gripped  by  it. 

As  I  worked  I  remembered  that  d'Ennery 
sometime  before  had  entrusted  to  me  an  impor- 
tant libretto  and  that  I  had  found  a  very  moving 
situation  in  the  fifth  act.  While  the  words  did 
not  appear  sufficiently  worth  while  to  lead  me  to 
write  the  music,  I  wanted  to  keep  this  situation. 
I  told  the  famous  dramatist  and  I  obtained  his 
consent  to  interpolate  this  scene  in  the  second 
act  of  Le  Cid.  Thus  d'Ennery  became  a  col- 
laborator. This  scene  is  where  Chimene  finds 
that  Rodriguez  is  her  father's  murderer. 

Some  days  later,  as  I  was  reading  the  romance 
of  Guilhem  de  Castro,  I  came  across  an  incident 
which  became  the  tableau  where  the  consoling 
apparition  appears  to  the  Cid  as  he  is  in  tears — 
the  second  tableau  in  the  third  act.  I  was  in- 
spired to  this  by  the  apparition  of  Jesus  to  Saint 
Julien  the  Hospitalier. 

I  continued  my  work  on  Le  Cid  wherever  I 


happened  to  be,  as  the  performances  of  Manon 
took  me  to  the  provincial  theaters  where  they  al- 
ternated it  with  Herodiade  both  in  France  and 

I  wrote  the  ballet  for  Le  Cid  at  Marseilles  dur- 
ing a  rather  long  stay  there.  I  was  very  com- 
fortably established  in  my  room,  at  the  Hotel 
Beauveau,  with  its  long  latticed  windows  which 
looked  out  on  the  old  port.  The  prospect  was 
actually  fairylike.  This  room  was  decorated 
with  remarkable  panels  and  mirrors,  and  when  I 
expressed  my  astonishment  at  seeing  them  so 
well  preserved,  the  proprietor  told  me  that  the 
room  was  an  object  of  special  care  because  Pagan- 
ini,  Alfred  de  Musset  and  George  Sand  had  all 
lived  there  once  upon  a  time.  The  cult  of  mem- 
ories sometimes  reaches  the  point  of  fetishism. 

It  was  spring.  My  room  was  scented  with 
bunches  of  carnations  which  my  friends  in  Mar- 
seilles sent  me  every  day.  When  I  say  friends, 
the  word  is  too  weak;  perhaps  it  is  necessary  to 
go  to  mathematics  to  get  the  word,  and  even 

The  friends  in  Marseilles  heaped  upon  me  con- 
sideration, attention  and  endless  kindness. 
That  is  the  country  where  they  sweeten  the  cof- 


fee  by  placing  it  outside  on  the  balcony,  for  the 
sea  is  made  of  honey ! 

Before  I  left  the  kind  hospitality  of  this  Pho- 
cean  city,  I  received  the  following  letter  from 
the  directors  of  the  Opera,  Ritt  and  Gailhard: 

"My  dear  Friend, 

"Can  you  set  the  day  and  hour  for  your  read- 
ing of  Le  Cid? 

"In  friendship, 

"E.  RITT." 

But  I  had  brought  from  Paris  keen  anguish 
about  the  distribution  of  the  parts.  I  wanted  the 
sublime  Mme.  Fides  Devries  to  create  the  part  of 
Chimene,  but  they  said  that  since  her  marriage 
she  no  longer  wanted  to  appear  on  the  stage. 
I  also  depended  on  my  friends  Jean  and  Edouard 
de  Reszke,  who  came  to  Paris  especially  to  talk 
about  Le  Cid.  They  were  aware  of  my  plans  for 
them.  How  many  times  I  climbed  the  stairs  of 
the  Hotel  Scribe  where  they  lived! 

At  last  the  contracts  were  signed  and  finally 
the  reading  took  place  as  the  Opera  requested. 

As  I  speak  of  the  ballet  in  Le  Cid  I  remember 
I  heard  the  motif,  which  begins  the  ballet,  in 
Spain.  I  was  in  the  very  country  of  Le  Cid  at 
the  time,  living  in  a  modest  inn.  It  chanced  that 



they  were  celebrating  a  wedding  and  they  danced 
all  night  in  the  lower  room  of  the  hotel.  Several 
guitars  and  two  flutes  repeated  a  dance  tune 
until  they  wore  it  out.  I  noted  it  down.  It  be- 
came the  motif  I  am  writing  about,  a  bit  of  local 
color  which  I  seized.  I  did  not  let  it  get  away. 
I  intended  this  ballet  for  Mile.  Rosita  Mauri  who 
had  already  done  some  wonderful  dances  at  the 
Opera.  I  even  owed  several  interesting  rhythms 
to  the  famous  dancer. 

The  land  of  the  Magyars  and  France  have  been 
joined  at  all  times  by  bonds  of  keen,  cordial  sym- 
pathy. It  was  not  a  surprise,  therefore,  when 
the  Hungarian  students  invited  forty  Frenchmen 
— I  was  one — to  go  to  Hungary  for  festivities 
which  they  intended  to  give  in  our  honor. 

We  started — a  joyous  caravan — one  beautiful 
evening  in  August  for  the  banks  of  the  Danube, 
Frangois  Coppee,  Leo  Delibes,  Georges  Clairin, 
Doctors  Pozzi  and  Albert  Rodin,  and  many  other 
comrades  and  charming  friends.  Then,  some 
newspaper  men  went  along.  Ferdinand  de  Les- 
seps  was  at  our  head  to  preside  over  us,  by  right 
of  name  if  not  by  fame.  Our  illustrious  com- 
patriot was  nearly  eighty  at  the  time.  He  bore 
the  weight  of  years  so  lightly  that  for  a  moment 



one  would  have  thought  he  was  the  youngest  in 
the  lot. 

We  started  off  in  uproarious  gaiety.  The 
journey  was  one  uninterrupted  flow  of  jests  and 
humorous  wit,  intermingled  with  farce  and  end- 
less pleasantries. 

The  restaurant  car  was  reserved  for  us.  We 
did  not  leave  it  all  night  and  our  sleeping  car  was 
absolutely  unoccupied. 

As  we  went  through  Munich,  the  Orient  Ex- 
press stopped  for  five  minutes  to  let  off  two  trav- 
elers, a  man  and  a  woman,  who,  we  did  not  know 
how,  had  contrived  to  squeeze  into  a  corner  of 
the  dining  car  and  who  had  calmly  sat  through 
all  our  follies.  As  they  left  the  train,  they  made 
in  a  foreign  accent  this  rather  sharp  remark, 
"Those  distinguished  persons  seem  rather  com- 
mon." We  certainly  did  not  intend  to  displease 
that  puritanical  pair  and  we  never  overstepped 
the  bounds  of  joviality  and  fun. 

That  fortnight's  journey  continued  full  of  in- 
cidents in  which  jokes  contended  with  burlesque. 

Every  evening,  after  the  warmly  enthusiastic 
receptions  of  the  Hungarian  youth,  Ferdinand 
de  Lesseps,  our  venerated  chief,  who  was  called 
in  all  the  Hungarian  speeches  the  "Great  French- 



man,"  would  leave  us  after  fixing  the  order  of 
the  next  day's  receptions.  As  he  finished  ar- 
ranging our  program,  he  would  add,  "To-mor- 
row morning,  at  four  o'clock,  in  evening  dress." 
And  the  "Great  Frenchman"  would  be  the  first 
one  up  and  dressed.  When  we  congratulated 
him  on  his  extraordinary  youthful  energy,  he 
would  apologize  as  follows:  "Youth  must  wear 
itself  out." 

During  the  festivities  of  every  kind  which  they 
got  up  in  our  honor,  they  arranged  for  a  gala 
spectacle,  a  great  performance  at  the  Theatre 
Royal  in  Budapest.  Delibes  and  I  were  both 
asked  to  conduct  an  act  from  one  of  our  works. 

When  I  reached  the  orchestra,  amid  hurrahs 
from  the  audience,  only  in  Hungary  they  shout, 
"Elyen,"  I  found  on  the  desk  the  score  ...  of 
the  first  act  of  Coppelia,  when  I  had  expected  to 
find  before  me  the  third  act  of  Herodiade  for  me 
to  conduct.  So  much  the  worse!  There  was 
no  help  for  it  and  I  had  to  beat  time — from 

The  plot  thickened. 

When  Delibes,  who  had  received  the  same 
honors  that  I  had,  saw  the  third  act  of  Herodiade 
on  his  desk,  with  me  rejoining  my  companions 


The  Forum  from  the  First  Act  of  Roma.     See  page  300 


in  the  audience,  he  presented  a  unique  spectacle. 
My  poor  dear  great  friend  mopped  his  brow, 
turned  this  way  and  that,  drew  long  breaths, 
begged  the  Hungarian  musicians — who  didn't 
understand  a  word  he  said — to  give  him  the  right 
score,  but  all  in  vain. 

He  had  to  conduct  from  memory.  This 
seemed  to  exasperate  him,  but  Delibes,  the  ador- 
able musician,  was  far  above  a  little  difficulty  like 

After  this  entertainment  we  were  all  present 
at  an  immense  banquet  where  naturally  enough 
toasts  were  de  rigeur.  I  offered  one  to  that  great 
musician,  Franz  Liszt — Hungary  was  honored  in 
giving  him  birth. 

When  Delibes's  turn  came,  I  suggested  to  him 
that  I  collaborate  in  his  speech  as  we  had  done  at 
the  Opera  with  our  scores.  I  spoke  for  him;  he 
spoke  for  me.  The  result  was  a  succession  of 
incoherent  phrases  which  were  received  by  the 
frantic  applause  of  our  compatriots  and  by  the 
enthusiastic  "Elyens"  of  the  Hungarians. 

I  will  add  that  Delibes  and  I,  like  all  the  rest, 
were  in  a  state  of  delightful  intoxication,  for  the 
marvellous  vineyards  of  Hungary  are  verily  those 
of  the  Lord  himself.  Something  must  be  the 



matter  with  one's  head,  if  he  does  not  enjoy  the 
charm  of  those  wines  with  their  voluptuous, 
heady  bouquet. 

Four  o'clock  in  the  morning!  We  were,  as 
ordered,  in  evening  dress  (indeed  we  had  not 
changed  it)  and  ready  to  go  to  lay  wreaths  on 
the  tomb  of  the  forty  Hungarian  martyrs  who 
had  died  to  free  their  country. 

But  through  all  these  mad  follies,  all  these 
distractions,  and  impressive  ceremonies,  I  was 
thinking  of  the  rehearsals  of  Le  Cid  which  were 
waiting  for  my  return  to  Paris.  When  I  got 
back,  I  found  another  souvenir  of  Hungary,  a 
letter  from  the  author  of  La  Messe  du  Saint  Graal, 
the  precursor  of  Parsifal: 

"Most  Honored  Confrere: 

"The  Hungarian  Gazette  informs  me  that  you 
have  testified  benevolently  in  my  favor  at  the 
French  banquet  at  Budapest.  Sincere  thanks 
and  constant  cordiality. 

"F.  LISZT." 
26  August,  '85.     Weimar. 

The  stage  rehearsals  of  Le  Cid  at  the  Opera 
were  carried  on  with  astonishing  sureness  and 
skill  by  my  dear  director,  P.  Gailhard,  a  master 
of  this  art  who  had  been  besides  the  most  admir- 



able  of  artists  on  the  stage.  He  did  everything 
for  the  good  of  the  work  with  an  affectionate 
friendship.  It  is  my  pleasant  duty  to  pay  him 
honor  for  this. 

Later  on  I  found  him  the  same  invaluable  col- 
laborator when  Ariane  was  put  on  at  the  Opera. 

On  the  evening  of  November  20,  1885,  the 
Opera  billed  the  first  performance  of  Le  Cid, 
while  the  Opera-Comique  played  the  same  eve- 
ning Manon,  which  had  already  passed  its  eight- 
ieth performance. 

In  spite  of  the  good  news  from  the  general 
rehearsal  of  Le  Cid,  I  spent  the  evening  with  the 
artists  at  Manon.  Needless  to  say  all  the  talk  in 
the  wings  of  the  Opera-Comique  was  of  the  first 
performance  of  Le  Cid  which  was  then  in  full 

Despite  my  apparent  calmness,  in  my  inmost 
heart  I  was  extremely  anxious,  so  the  curtain  had 
hardly  fallen  on  the  fifth  act  of  Manon  than  I 
went  to  the  Opera  instead  of  going  home.  An 
irresistible  power  pulled  me  thither. 

As  I  skirted  the  outside  of  the  house  from 
which  an  elegant  and  large  crowd  was  pouring, 
I  overheard  a  snatch  of  conversation  between  a 
well  known  journalist  and  a  reporter  who  hur- 



riedly  inquired  the  results  of  the  evening.     "It 
is  splitting,  my  dear  chap." 

I  was  greatly  troubled,  as  one  would  be  in  any 
case,  and  ran  to  the  directors'  room  for  further 
news.  At  the  artists'  entrance  I  met  Mme. 
Krause.  She  embraced  me  in  raptures  and  said, 
"It's  a  triumph!" 

Need  I  say  that  I  preferred  the  opinion  of  this 
admirable  artiste.  She  comforted  me  com- 

I  left  Paris  (what  a  traveler  I  was  then!)  for 
Lyons,  where  they  were  giving  both  Herodiade 
and  Manon. 

Three  days  after  my  arrival  there,  as  I  was 
dining  at  a  restaurant  with  my  two  great  friends 
Josephin  Soulary,  the  fine  poet  of  Les  Deux 
Corteges,  and  Paul  Marieton,  the  vibrant  provin- 
cial poet,  I  was  handed  the  following  telegram 
from  Hartmann : 

"Fifth  performance  of  Le  Cid  postponed  a 
month.  Enormous  advance  sale  returned.  Ar- 
tists ill." 

I  was  nervous  at  the  time ;  I  fainted  away  and 
remained  unconscious  so  long  that  my  friends 
were  greatly  alarmed. 



At  the  end  of  three  weeks,  however,  Le  Cid 
reappeared  on  the  bills,  and  I  realized  once  more 
that  I  was  surrounded  by  deep  sympathy,  as  the 
following  letter  shows: 

"My  dear  Confrere: 

"I  must  congratulate  you  on  your  success  and 
I  want  to  applaud  you  as  quickly  as  possible. 
My  turn  for  my  box  does  not  come  around  until 
Friday,  December  llth,  and  I  beg  you  to  arrange 
for  Le  Cid  to  be  given  on  that  day,  Friday,  De- 
cember 11. 


How  touched  and  proud  I  was  at  this  mark 
of  attention  from  his  Royal  Highness  the  Due 
d'Aumale ! 

I  shall  always  remember  the  delightful  and 
inspiring  days  passed  at  the  Chateau  de  Chan- 
tilly  with  my  confreres  at  the  Institute  Leon  Bon- 
nat,  Benjamin  Constant,  Edouard  Detaille,  and 
Ger6me.  Our  reception  by  our  royal  host  was 
charming  in  its  simplicity  and  his  conversation 
was  that  of  an  eminent  man  of  letters,  erudite 
but  unpretentious.  It  was  captivating  and  at- 
tractive for  us  when  we  all  gathered  in  the  library 
where  the  prince  enthralled  us  by  his  perfect 



simplicity  as  he  talked  to  us,  pipe  in  his  mouth, 
as  he  had  so  often  done  in  camp  among  our  sol- 

Only  the  great  ones  of  earth  know  how  to  pro- 
duce such  moments  of  delightful  familiarity. 

And  Le  Cid  went  on  its  way  both  in  the  prov- 
inces and  abroad. 

In  October,  1900,  the  hundredth  perform- 
ance was  celebrated  at  the  Opera  and  on  Novem- 
ber 21,  1911,  at  the  end  of  twenty-six  years,  I 
read  in  the  papers: 

"The  performance  of  Le  Cid  last  night  was 
one  of  the  finest.  A  packed  house  applauded 
enthusiastically  the  beautiful  work  by  M.  Mas- 
senet and  his  interpreters:  Mile.  Breval,  Mm. 
Franz  and  Delmas,  and  the  star  of  the  ballet, 
Mile.  Zambelli." 

I  had  been  particularly  happy  in  the  perform- 
ances of  this  work  which  had  preceded  this. 
After  the  sublime  Fides  Devries,  Chimene  was 
sung  in  Paris  by  the  incomparable  Mme.  Rose 
Caron,  the  superb  Mme.  Adiny,  the  moving  Mile. 
Merentie,  and  particularly  by  Louise  Grandjean, 
the  eminent  professor  at  the  Conservatoire. 




On  Sunday,  August  first,  Hartmann  and  I 
went  to  hear  Parsifal  at  the  Wagner  Theater  at 
Bayreuth.  After  we  had  heard  this  miracle 
unique  we  visited  the  capital  of  Upper  Franconia. 
Some  of  the  monuments  there  are  worth  while 
seeing.  I  wanted  especially  to  see  the  city 
church.  It  is  an  example  of  the  Gothic  archi- 
tecture of  the  middle  of  the  Fifteenth  Century 
and  was  dedicated  to  Mary  Magdalene.  It  is 
not  hard  to  imagine  what  memories  drew  me  to 
this  remarkable  edifice. 

After  running  through  various  German  towns 
and  visiting  different  theaters,  Hartmann,  who 
had  an  idea  of  his  own,  took  me  to  Wetzler,  where 
he  had  seen  Werther.  We  visited  the  house 
where  Goethe  had  written  his  immortal  romance, 
The  Sorrows  of  Young  Werther. 

I  knew  Werther's  letters  and  I  had  a  thrilling 
recollection  of  them.  I  was  deeply  impressed 



by  being  in  the  house  which  Goethe  made  famous 
by  having  his  hero  live  and  love  there. 

As  we  were  coming  out  Hartmann  said,  "I 
have  something  to  complete  the  obviously  deep 
emotion  you  have  felt." 

As  he  spoke,  he  drew  from  his  pocket  a  book 
with  a  binding  yellow  with  age.  It  was  the 
French  translation  of  Goethe's  romance.  "This 
translation  is  perfect,"  said  Hartmann,  in  spite 
of  the  aphorism  Traduttore  traditore,  that  a  trans- 
lation utterly  distorts  the  author's  thought. 

I  scarcely  had  the  book  in  my  hands  than  I 
was  eager  to  read  it,  so  we  went  into  one  of  those 
immense  beer  halls  which  are  everywhere  in 
Germany.  We  sat  down  and  ordered  two  enor- 
mous bocks  like  our  neighbors  had.  Among  the 
various  groups  were  students  who  were  easily 
picked  out  by  their  scholars'  caps  and  were  play- 
ing cards  or  other  games,  nearly  all  with  porce- 
lain pipes  in  their  mouths.  On  the  other  hand 
there  were  few  women. 

It  is  needless  to  tell  what  I  endured  in  that 
thick,  foul  air  laden  with  the  bitter  odor  of  beer. 
But  I  could  not  stop  reading  those  burning  letters 
full  of  the  most  intense  passion.  Indeed  what 
could  be  more  suggestive  than  the  following 



lines,  remembered  among  so  many  others,  where 
keen  anguish  threw  Werther  and  Charlotte  into 
each  other's  arms  after  the  thrilling  reading  of 
Ossian's  verses  ? 

"Why  awakest  me,  breath  of  the  Spring? 
Thou  caresseth  me  and  sayeth  I  am  laden  with 
the  dew  of  heaven,  but  the  time  cometh  when  I 
must  wither,  the  storm  that  must  beat  down  my 
leaves  is  at  hand.  To-morrow  the  traveler  will 
come ;  his  eye  will  seek  me  everywhere,  and  find 
me  no  more.  ..." 

And  Goethe  adds: 

"Unhappy  Werther  felt  crushed  by  the  force 
of  these  words  and  threw  himself  before  Char- 
lotte in  utter  despair.  It  seemed  to  Charlotte 
that  a  presentiment  of  the  frightful  project  he 
had  formed  passed  through  her  soul.  Her 
senses  reeled ;  she  clasped  his  hands  and  pressed 
them  to  her  bosom;  she  leaned  towards  him  ten- 
derly and  their  burning  cheeks  touched." 

Such  delirious,  ecstatic  passion  brought  tears 
to  my  eyes.  What  a  moving  scene,  what  a  pas- 
sionate picture  that  ought  to  make!  It  was 
Werther,  my  third  act. 

I  was  now  all  life  and  happiness.  I  was 
wrapped  up  in  work  and  in  an  almost  feverish 



activity.  It  was  a  task  I  wanted  to  do  but  into 
which  I  had  to  put,  if  possible,  the  song  of  those 
moving,  lively  passions. 

Circumstances,  however,  willed  that  I  put  this 
project  aside  for  the  moment.  Carvalho  pro- 
posed Phoebe  to  me  and  chance  led  me  to  write 

Then  came  Le  Cid  to  fill  my  life.  At  last  in 
the  summer  of  1885,  without  waiting  for  the 
result  of  that  opera,  Hartmann,  Paul  Milliet,  my 
great,  splendid  collaborator  in  Herodiade,  and  I 
came  to  an  agreement  to  take  up  the  task  of  writ- 
ing Wenher. 

In  order  to  incite  me  to  work  more  ardently 
(as  if  I  had  need  of  it)  my  publisher — he  had 
improvised  a  scenario — engaged  for  me  at  the 
Reservoirs  at  Versailles,  a  vast  ground  floor  apart- 
ment on  the  level  of  the  gardens  of  our  great 
Le  Notre. 

The  room  in  which  I  was  installed  had  a  lofty 
ceiling  with  Eighteenth  Century  paneling  and  it 
was  furnished  in  the  same  period.  The  table  at 
which  I  wrote  was  the  purest  Louis  XV.  Hart- 
mann had  chosen  everything  at  the  most  famous 

Hartmann  had  special  aptitude  for  doing  his 


share  of  the  work.  He  spoke  German  very  well; 
he  understood  Goethe;  he  loved  the  German 
mind;  he  stuck  to  it  that  I  should  undertake  the 

So,  when  one  day  it  was  suggested  that  I  write 
an  opera  on  Murger's  La  Vie  de  Boheme,  he  took 
it  on  himself  to  refuse  the  work  without  consult- 
ing me  in  any  way. 

I  would  have  been  greatly  tempted  to  do  the 
thing.  I  would  have  been  pleased  to  follow 
Henry  Murger  in  his  life  and  work.  He  was  an 
artist  in  his  way.  Theophile  Gautier  justly 
called  him  a  poet,  although  he  excelled  as  a 
writer  of  prose.  I  feel  that  I  could  have  fol- 
lowed him  through  that  peculiar  world  he  cre- 
ated and  which  he  has  made  it  possible  for  us  to 
cross  in  a  thousand  ways  in  the  train  of  the  most 
amusing  originals  we  had  ever  seen.  And  such 
gaiety,  such  tears,  such  outbursts  of  frantic 
laughter,  and  such  courageous  poverty,  as  Jules 
Janin  said,  would,  I  think,  have  captivated  me. 
Like  Alfred  de  Musset — one  of  his  masters — he 
had  grace  and  style,  ineffable  tenderness,  glad- 
some smiles,  the  cry  of  the  heart,  emotion.  He 
sang  songs  dear  to  the  hearts  of  lovers  and  they 
charm  us  all.  His  fiddle  was  not  a  Stradivarius, 



they  said,  but  he  had  a  soul  like  Hoffman's  and 
he  knew  how  to  play  so  as  to  bring  tears. 

I  knew  Murger  personally,  in  fact  so  well  that 
I  even  saw  him  the  night  of  his  death.  I  was 
present  at  a  most  affecting  interview  while  I  was 
there,  but  even  that  did  not  lack  a  comic  note.  It 
could  not  have  been  otherwise  with  Murger. 

I  was  at  his  bedside  when  they  brought  in  M. 
Schaune  (the  Schaunardo  of  La  Vie  de  Boheme) . 
Murger  was  eating  magnificent  grapes  he  had 
bought  with  his  last  louis  and  Schaune  said 
laughing,  "How  silly  of  you  to  drink  your  wine 
in  pills!" 

As  I  knew  not  only  Murger  but  also  Schaunard 
and  Musette,  it  seemed  to  me  that  there  was  no 
one  better  qualified  than  I  to  be  the  musician  of 
La  Vie  de  Boheme.  But  all  those  heroes  were 
my  friends  and  I  saw  them  every  day,  so  that  I 
understood  why  Hartmann  thought  the  moment 
had  not  come  to  write  that  so  distinctly  Parisian 
work,  to  sing  the  romance  that  had  been  so  great 
a  part  of  my  life. 

As  I  speak  of  that  period  which  is  already  in 
the  distant  past,  I  glory  in  recalling  that  I  knew 
Corot  at  Ville-d'Avray,  as  well  as  our  famous 
Harpigmes,  who  despite  his  ninety-two  years  is, 


as  I  write,  in  all  the  vigor  of  his  immense  talent. 
Only  yesterday  he  climbed  gaily  to  my  floor. 
Oh,  the  dear  great  friend,  the  marvellous  artist 
I  have  known  for  fifty  years ! 

When  the  work  was  done,  I  went  to  M.  Car- 
valho's  on  the  twenty-fifth  of  May.  I  had  se- 
cured Mme.  Rose  Caron,  then  at  the  Opera,  to 
aid  me  in  my  reading.  The  admirable  artiste 
was  beside  me  turning  the  pages  of  the  manu- 
script and  showing  the  deepest  emotion  at  times. 
I  read  the  four  acts  by  myself,  and  when  I  reached 
the  climax,  I  fell  exhausted,  annihilated. 

Then  Carvalho  came  to  me  without  a  word, 
but  he  finally  said: 

"I  had  hoped  you  would  bring  me  another 
Manon!  This  dismal  subject  lacks  interest.  It 
is  damned  from  the  start." 

As  I  think  this  over  to-day,  I  understand  his 
impression  perfectly,  especially  when  I  reflect  on 
the  years  I  had  to  live  before  the  work  came  to 
be  admired. 

Carvalho  was  kind  and  offered  me  some  ex- 
quisite wine,  claret,  I  believe,  like  what  I  had 
tasted  one  joyous  evening  I  read  Manon.  .  .  . 
My  throat  was  as  dry  as  my  speech;  I  went  out 
without  saying  a  word. 



The  next  day,  horresco  referens,  yes,  the  next 
day  I  was  again  struck  down,  the  Opera-Comique 
was  no  more.  It  had  heen  totally  destroyed  by 
fire  during  the  night.  I  hurried  to  Carvalho's. 
We  fell  into  each  other's  arms,  embraced  each 
other  in  tears  and  wept.  My  poor  director  was 
ruined.  Inexorable  fate!  The  work  had  to 
wait  six  years  in  silence  and  oblivion. 

Two  years  before  the  Opera  at  Vienna  had  put 
on  Manon;  the  hundredth  performance  was 
reached  and  passed  in  a  short  time.  The  Aus- 
trian capital  had  given  me  a  friendly  and  envi- 
able reception;  so  much  so  that  it  suggested  to 
Van  Dyck  the  idea  of  asking  me  for  a  work. 

Now  I  proposed  Wenher.  The  lack  of  good 
will  on  the  part  of  the  French  directors  left  me 
free  to  dispose  of  that  score. 

The  Vienna  Opera  was  an  imperial  theater. 
The  management  asked  the  Emperor  to  place  an 
apartment  at  my  disposal  and  he  graciously  of- 
fered me  one  at  the  famous  Hotel  Sacher  beside 
the  Opera. 

My  first  call  after  my  arrival  was  on  Jahn,  the 
director.  That  kindly,  eminent  master  took  me 
to  the  foyer  where  the  rehearsals  were  to  be  held. 
It  was  a  vast  room,  lighted  by  immense  windows 



and  provided  with  great  chairs.  A  full  length 
portrait  of  Emperor  Francis  Joseph  ornamented 
one  of  the  panels ;  there  was  a  grand  piano  in  the 
center  of  the  room. 

All  the  artists  for  Werther  were  gathered 
around  the  piano  when  Jahn  and  I  entered  the 
foyer.  As  they  saw  us  they  rose  in  a  body  and 
bowed  in  salutation. 

At  this  touching  manifestation  of  respectful 
sympathy — to  which  our  great  Van  Dyck  added 
a  most  affectionate  embrace — I  responded  by 
bowing  in  my  turn ;  and  then  a  little  nervous  and 
trembling  all  over  I  sat  down  at  the  piano. 

The  work  was  absolutely  in  shape.  All  the 
artists  could  sing  their  parts  from  memory.  The 
hearty  demonstrations  they  showered  on  me  at 
intervals  moved  me  so  that  I  felt  tears  in  my 

At  the  orchestra  rehearsal  this  emotion  was 
renewed.  The  execution  was  perfection ;  the  or- 
chestra, now  soft,  now  loud,  followed  the  shad- 
ing of  the  voice  so  that  I  could  not  shake  off  the 

The  general  rehearsal  took  place  on  February 
fifteenth  from  nine  o'clock  in  the  morning  until 
midday  and  I  saw  (an  ineffable,  sweet  surprise) 



in  the  orchestra  stalls  my  dear  publisher,  Henri 
Heugel,  Paul  Milliet,  my  precious  co-worker,  and 
intimate  friends  from  Paris.  They  had  come  so 
far  to  see  me  in  the  Austrian  capital  amid  great 
and  lively  joys,  for  I  had  really  been  received 
there  in  the  most  exquisite  and  flattering  manner. 

The  performances  that  followed  confirmed  the 
impressions  of  the  beautiful  first  performance  of 
February  16, 1892.  The  work  was  sung  by  the 
celebrated  artists  Marie  Renard  and  Ernest  Van 

That  same  year,  1892,  Carvalho  again  became 
the  director  of  the  Opera-Comique,  then  in  the 
Place  du  Chatelet.  He  asked  me  for  Werther, 
and  in  a  tone  so  full  of  feeling  that  I  did  not  hesi- 
tate to  let  him  have  it. 

The  same  week  Mme.  Massenet  and  I  dined 
with  M.  and  Mme.  Alphonse  Daudet.  The  other 
guests  were  Edmond  de  Goncourt  and  Charpen- 
tier,  the  publisher. 

After  dinner  Daudet  told  me  that  he  wanted 
me  to  hear  a  young  artiste.  "Music  herself,"  he 
said.  This  young  girl  was  Marie  Delna!  At 
the  first  bars  that  she  sang  (the  aria  from  the 
great  Gounod's  La  Reine  de  Saba)  I  turned  to 
her  and  took  her  hands. 



"Be  Charlotte,  our  Charlotte,"  I  said,  utterly 
carried  away. 

The  day  after  the  first  performance  at  the 
Opera- Comique,  in  January,  1893,  I  received 
this  note  from  Gounod: 

"Dear  Friend: 

"Our  most  hearty  congratulations  on  this 
double  triumph  and  we  regret  that  the  French 
were  not  the  first  witnesses." 

The  following  touching  and  picturesque  lines 
were  sent  me  at  the  time  by  the  illustrious  archi- 
tect of  the  Opera. 

"Amico  mio, 

Two  eyes  to  see  you, 
Two  ears  to  hear  you, 
Two  lips  to  kiss  you, 
Two  arms  to  enfold  you, 
Two  hands  to  applaud  you. 

"Two  words  to  give  thee  all  my  compliments 
and  to  tell  thee  that  thy  Werther  is  an  excellent 
hit — do  you  know? — I  am  proud  of  you,  and  for 
your  part  do  not  blush  that  a  poor  architect  is  en- 
tirely satisfied  with  you. 


In  1903,  after  nine  years  of  ostracism,  M. 


Albert  Carre  revived  this  forgotten  work.  With 
his  incomparable  talent,  his  marvellous  taste, 
and  his  art,  which  was  that  of  an  exquisite  man 
of  letters,  he  knew  how  to  present  the  work  to  the 
public  so  as  to  make  it  a  real  revelation. 

Many  famous  artistes  have  sung  the  role  since 
that  time:  Mile.  Marie  de  1'Isle,  who  was  the 
first  Charlotte  at  the  revival  and  who  created  the 
work  with  her  fine,  individual  talents ;  then  Miles. 
Lamare,  Cesbron,  Wyns,  Raveau,  Mmes.  de 
Nuovina,  Vix,  Hatto,  Brohly,  and  .  .  .  others 
whose  names  I  will  give  later. 

At  the  revival  due  to  M.  Albert  Carre,  Werther 
had  the  great  good  fortune  to  have  Leon  Beyle 
as  the  protagonist  of  the  part;  later  Edmond 
Clement  and  Salignac  were  also  superb  and  thrill- 
ing interpreters  of  the  work. 




But  to  go  back  to  the  events  the  day  after  the 
destruction  of  the  Opera-Comique. 

The  Opera-Comique  was  moved  to  the  Place 
du  Chatelet,  in  the  old  theater  called  Des  Na- 
tions, which  later  became  the  Theatre  Sarah 
Bernhardt.  M.  Paravey  was  appointed  director. 
I  had  known  him  when  he  directed  the  Grand- 
Theatre  at  Nantes  with  real  talent. 

Hartmann  offered  him  two  works:  Edouard 
Lalo's  Le  Roi  d'Ya  and  my  W either  on  suffer- 

I  was  so  discouraged  that  I  preferred  to  wait 
before  I  let  the  work  see  the  light. 

I  have  just  written  about  its  genesis  and  des- 

One  day  I  received  a  friendly  invitation  to  dine 
with  a  great  American  family.  After  I  had  de- 
clined, as  I  most  often  did — I  hadn't  time,  in 
addition  to  not  liking  that  sort  of  distraction — 
they  insisted,  however,  so  graciously  that  I  could 
not  persist  in  my  refusal.  It  seemed  to  me  that 



perhaps  my  afflicted  heart  might  meet  something 
there  which  would  turn  aside  my  discourage- 
ments. Does  one  ever  know?  .  .  . 

I  was  placed  beside  a  lady  who  composed  mu- 
sic and  had  great  talent.  On  the  other  side  of 
my  neighbor  was  a  French  diplomat  whose  ami- 
able compliments  surpassed,  it  seemed  to  me,  all 
limits.  Est  modus  in  rebus,  there  are  limits  in 
all  things,  and  our  diplomat  should  have  been 
guided  by  this  ancient  saying  together  with  the 
counsel  of  a  master,  the  illustrious  Talleyrand, 
"Pas  de  zele,  surtout!" 

I  would  not  think  of  telling  the  exact  conversa- 
tion which  occurred  in  that  charming  place  any 
more  than  I  would  think  of  giving  the  menu  of 
what  we  had  to  eat.  What  I  do  remember  is  a 
salad — a  disconcerting  mixture  of  American, 
English,  German,  and  French. 

But  my  French  neighbors  occupied  my  entire 
attention,  which  gave  me  the  chance  to  remem- 
ber this  delightful  colloquy  between  the  lady 
composer  and  the  diplomat. 

The  Gentleman. — "So  you  are  ever  the  child 
of  the  Muses,  a  new  Orphea?" 

The  Lady. — "Isn't  music  the  consolation  of 
souls  in  distress?" 



The  Gentleman  (insinuatingly). — "Do  you 
not  find  that  love  is  stronger  than  sounds  in  ban- 
ishing heart  pain?" 

The  Lady. — "Yesterday,  I  was  consoled  by 
writing  the  music  to  'The  Broken  Vase.'  ' 

The  Gentleman  (poetically). — "A  nocturne, 
no  doubt,  o  .  0" 

I  heard  muffled  laughter.  The  conversation 
took  a  new  turn. 

After  dinner  we  went  into  the  drawing  room 
for  music.  I  was  doing  my  best  to  obliterate 
myself  when  two  ladies  dressed  in  black,  one 
young,  the  other  older,  came  in. 

The  master  of  the  house  hastened  to  greet 
them  and  I  was  presented  to  them  almost  at 

The  younger  was  extraordinarily  lovely;  the 
other  was  her  mother,  also  beautiful,  with  that 
thoroughly  American  beauty  which  the  Starry 
Republic  often  sends  to  us. 

"Dear  Master,"  said  the  younger  woman  with 
a  slight  accent,  "I  have  been  asked  to  come  to 
this  friendly  house  this  evening  to  have  the  honor 
of  seeing  you  and  to  let  you  hear  my  voice.  I 
am  the  daughter  of  a  supreme  court  judge  in 
America  and  I  have  lost  my  father.  He  left  my 



mother,  my  sisters,  and  me  a  fortune,  but  I  want 
to  go  on  the  stage.  If  they  blame  me  for  it,  after 
I  have  succeeded  I  shall  reply  that  success  ex- 
cuses everything." 

Without  further  preamble  I  granted  her  desire 
and  seated  myself  at  the  piano. 

"You  will  pardon  me,"  she  added,  "if  I  do  not 
sing  your  music.  That  would  be  too  audacious 
before  you." 

She  had  scarcely  said  this  than  her  voice 
sounded  magically,  dazzlingly,  in  the  aria, 
"Queen  of  the  Night,"  from  the  Magic  Flute. 

What  a  fascinating  voice !  It  ranged  from  low 
G  to  the  counter  G — three  octaves — in  full 
strength  and  in  pianissimo. 

I  was  astounded,  stupefied,  subjugated! 
When  such  voices  occur,  it  is  fortunate  that  they 
have  the  theater  in  which  to  display  themselves ; 
the  world  is  their  domain.  I  ought  to  say  that 
I  had  recognized  in  that  future  artiste,  together 
with  the  rarity  of  that  organ,  intelligence,  a  flame, 
a  personality  which  were  reflected  luminously  in 
her  admirable  face.  All  these  qualities  are  of 
first  importance  on  the  stage. 

The  next  morning  I  hurried  to  my  publisher's 


to  tell  him  about  the  enthusiasm  I  had  felt  the 
previous  evening. 

I  found  Hartmann  preoccupied.  "It  con- 
cerns an  artist,  right  enough,"  he  said.  "I  want 
to  talk  about  something  else  and  ask  you,  yes  or 
no,  whether  you  will  write  the  music  for  the  work 
which  has  just  been  brought  me."  And  he 
added,  "It  is  urgent,  for  the  music  is  wanted  for 
the  opening  of  the  Universal  Exposition  which 
takes  place  two  years  from  now,  in  May,  1889." 

I  took  the  manuscript  and  I  had  scarcely  run 
through  a  scene  or  two  than  I  cried  in  an  out- 
burst of  deep  conviction,  "I  have  the  artiste  for 
this  part.  I  have  the  artiste.  I  heard  her  yes- 
terday! She  is  Mile.  Sibyl  Sanderson!  She 
shall  create  Esclarmonde,  the  heroine  of  the  new 
opera  you  offer  me." 

She  was  the  ideal  artiste  for  the  romantic  work 
in  five  acts  by  Alfred  Blau  and  Louis  de  Gramont. 

The  new  director  of  the  Opera-Comique,  who 
always  showed  me  deference  and  perfect  kind- 
ness, engaged  Mile.  Sibyl  Sanderson  and  ac- 
cepted without  discussion  the  salary  we  proposed. 

He  left  the  ordering  of  the  scenery  and  the 
costumes  entirely  to  my  discretion,  and  made  me 



the  absolute  master  and  director  of  the  8ecor- 
ators  and  costumers  whom  I  was  to  guide  in  en- 
tire accordance  with  my  ideas. 

If  I  was  agreeably  satisfied  by  this  state  of 
affairs,  M.  Paravey  for  his  part  could  not  but 
congratulate  himself  on  the  financial  results  from 
Esclarmonde.  It  is  but  just  to  add  that  it  was 
brought  out  at  the  necessarily  brilliant  period  of 
the  Universal  Exposition  in  1889.  The  first 
performance  was  on  May  14  of  that  year. 

The  superb  artists  who  figured  on  the  bill  with 
Sibyl  Sanderson  were  Mm.  Bouvet,  Taskin,  and 

The  work  had  been  sung  one  hundred  and  one 
consecutive  times  in  Paris  when  I  learned  that 
sometime  since  the  Theatre  Royal  de  la  Monnaie 
at  Brussels  had  engaged  Sibyl  Sanderson  to  cre- 
ate Esclarmonde  there.  That  meant  her  en- 
forced disappearance  from  the  stage  of  the  Opera- 
Comique,  where  she  had  triumphed  for  several 

If  Paris,  however,  must  needs  endure  the  si- 
lence of  the  artiste,  applauded  by  so  many  and 
such  varied  audiences  during  the  Exposition,  if 
this  star  who  had  risen  so  brilliantly  above  the  ho- 
rizon of  the  artistic  heavens  departed  for  a  tune  to 



charm  other  hearers,  the  great  provincial  houses 
echoed  with  the  success  in  Esclarmonde  of  such 
famous  artistes  as  Mme.  Brejean-Silver  at  Bor- 
deaux; Mme.  de  Nuovina  at  Brussels,  and  Mme. 
Verheyden  and  Mile.  Vuillaume  at  Lyons. 

Notwithstanding  all  this,  Esclarmonde  re- 
mained the  living  memory  of  that  rare  and  beau- 
tiful artiste  whom  I  had  chosen  to  create  the  role 
in  Paris;  it  enabled  her  to  make  her  name  for- 
ever famous. 

Sibyl  Sanderson!  I  cannot  remember  that 
artiste  without  feeling  deep  emotion,  cut  down 
as  she  was  in  her  full  beauty,  in  the  glorious 
bloom  of  her  talent  by  pitiless  Death.  She  was 
an  ideal  Manon  at  the  Opera-Comique,  and  a 
never  to  be  forgotten  Thai's  at  the  Opera.  These 
roles  identified  themselves  with  her  temperament, 
the  choicest  spirit  of  that  nature  which  was  one 

of  the  most  magnificently  endowed  I  have  ever 

An  unconquerable  vocation  had  driven  her 
to  the  stage,  where  she  became  the  ardent  inter- 
preter of  several  of  my  works.  But  for  our  part 
what  an  inspiring  joy  it  is  to  write  works  and 
parts  for  artists  who  realize  our  very  dreams ! 

It  is  in  gratitude  that  in  speaking  of  Esclar- 


monde  I  dedicate  these  lines  to  her.  The  many 
people  who  came  to  Paris  from  all  parts  of  the 
world  in  1889  have  also  kept  their  memories  of 
the  artiste  who  was  their  joy  and  who  had  so  de- 
lighted them. 

A  large,  silent,  meditative  crowd  gathered  at 
the  passing  of  the  cortege  which  bore  Sibyl  San- 
derson to  her  last  resting  place.  A  veil  of  sor- 
row seemed  to  be  over  them  all. 

Albert  Carre  and  I  followed  the  coffin.  We 
were  the  first  behind  all  that  remained  of  her 
beauty,  grace,  goodness,  and  talent  with  all  its 
appeal.  As  we  noted  the  universal  sorrow,  Al- 
bert Carre  interpreted  the  feeling  of  the  crowd 
towards  the  beautiful  departed,  and  said  in  these 
words,  eloquent  in  their  conciseness  and  which 
will  survive,  "She  was  loved!" 

What  more  simple,  more  touching,  and  more 
just  homage  could  be  paid  to  the  memory  of  her 
who  was  no  more? 

It  is  a  pleasure  to  recall  in  a  few  rapid  strokes 
the  happy  memory  of  the  time  I  spent  in  writing 

During  the  summers  of  1887  and  1888  I  went 
to  Switzerland  and  lived  in  the  Grand  Hotel  at 
Vevey.  I  was  curious  to  see  that  pretty  town  at 



the  foot  of  Jorat  on  the  shores  of  Lake  Geneva 
and  which  was  made  famous  by  its  Fete  des 
Vigerons.  I  had  heard  it  praised  for  the  many 
charming  walks  in  the  neighborhood  and  the 
beauty  and  mildness  of  the  climate.  Above  all 
I  remembered  that  I  had  read  of  it  in  the  "Con- 
fessions" of  Jean  Jacques  Rousseau,  who,  at  any 
rate,  had  every  reason  to  love  it, — Mme.  de  War- 
ens  was  born  there.  His  love  for  this  delightful 
little  city  lasted  through  all  his  wanderings. 

The  hotel  was  surrounded  by  a  fine  park  which 
afforded  the  guests  the  shade  of  its  large  trees 
and  led  to  a  small  harbor  where  they  could  em- 
bark for  excursions  on  the  lake. 

In  August,  1887, 1  wanted  to  pay  a  visit  to  my 
master  Ambroise  Thomas.  He  had  bought  a 
group  of  islands  in  the  sea  near  the  North  Coast 
and  I  had  been  there  to  see  him.  Doubtless  my 
visit  was  pleasant  to  him,  for  I  received  from 
him  the  next  summer  in  Switzerland  the  follow- 
ing pages: 

ILLIEC,  Monday,  August  20, 1888 

Thanks  for  your  good  letter,  my  dear  friend. 

It  has  been  forwarded  to  me  in  this  barbarous 

island  where  you  came  last  year.     You  remind 

me  of  that  friendly  visit  of  which  we  often  speak, 



but  we  regret  that  we  were  only  able  to  keep  you 
two  days. 

It  was  too  short ! 

Will  you  be  able  to  come  again,  or  rather,  shall 
I  see  you  here  again?  You  say  you  work  with 
pleasure  and  you  appear  content.  ...  I  con- 
gratulate you  on  it,  and  I  can  say  without  envy 
that  I  wish  I  were  able  to  say  as  much  for  myself. 
At  your  age  one  is  filled  with  confidence  and 
zeal ;  but  at  mine !  .  .  . 

I  am  taking  up  again,  not  without  some  diffi- 
culty, a  work  which  has  been  interrupted  for  a 
long  time,  and  what  is  better,  I  find  that  I  am 
already  rested  in  my  solitude  from  the  excitement 
and  fatigue  of  life  in  Paris. 

I  send  you  the  affectionate  regards  of  Mme. 
Ambroise  Thomas,  and  I  say  au  revoir,  dear 
friend,  with  a  good  grip  of  the  hand. 
Yours  with  all  my  heart, 


Yes,  as  my  master  said,  I  did  work  with  pleas- 

Mile.  Sibyl  Sanderson,  her  mother  and  three 
sisters  were  also  living  at  the  Grand  Hotel  at 
Vevey  and  every  evening  from  five  o'clock  until 
seven  I  made  our  future  Esclarmonde  work  on 
the  scene  I  had  written  that  day. 


i  >  •  • 
A  STAR  ' 

After  Esclarmonde  I  did  not  wait  for  my  mind 
to  grow  fallow.  My  publisher  knew  my  sad  feel- 
ings about  Werther  which  I  persisted  in  being  un- 
willing to  have  given  to  a  theater  (no  manage- 
ment had  then  made  advances  to  obtain  the 
work)  and  he  opened  negotiations  with  Jean 
Richepin.  They  decided  to  offer  me  a  great  sub- 
ject for  the  Opera  on  the  story  of  Zoroaster,  en- 
titled Le  Mage. 

In  the  course  of  the  summer  of  1889  I  already 
had  several  scenes  of  the  work  planned  out. 

My  excellent  friend  the  learned  writer  on  his- 
tory, Charles  Malherbe,  was  aware  of  the  few 
moments  I  made  no  use  of,  and  I  found  him  a 
real  collaborator  in  these  circumstances.  In- 
deed, he  chose  among  my  scattered  papers  a  se- 
ries of  manuscripts  which  he  indicated  to  me 
would  serve  in  the  different  acts  of  Le  Mage. 

P.  Gailhard,  our  director  at  the  Opera,  was  as 
ever  the  most  devoted  of  friends.  He  put  the 
work  on  with  unheard  of  elaborateness.  I  owed 
to  him  a  magnificent  cast  with  Mmes.  Fierens  and 
Lureau  Escalais  and  Mm.  Vergnet  and  Delmas. 
The  ballet  was  important  and  was  staged  in  a 
fairylike  way  and  had  as  its  star  Rosita  Mauri. 



Although  it  was  knocked  about  a  good  deal  by 
the  press,  the  work  ran  for  more  than  forty  per- 

Some  were  glad  of  the  chance  to  seek  a  quarrel 
with  our  director  who  had  played  his  last  card 
and  had  arrived  at  the  last  month  of  his  privilege. 
It  was  useless  trouble  on  their  part.  Gailhard 
was  shortly  afterwards  called  upon  to  resume  the 
managerial  scepter  of  our  great  lyric  stage.  I 
found  him  there  associated  with  E.  Bertrand 
when  Thais,  of  which  I  shall  speak  later,  was  put 

Apropos  of  this,  some  verses  of  the  ever  witty 
Ernest  Reyer  come  to  mind.  Here  they  are: 

Le  Mage  est  loin,  Werther  est  proche, 
Et  deja  Thais  est  sous  roche; 
Admirable  fecondite  .  .  . 
Moi,  voila  dix  ans  que  je  pioche 
Sur  Le  Capuchin  enchante. 

You  may  be  astonished  at  never  having  seen 

this  work  of  Reyer's  played.  Here  is  the  theme 
as  he  told  it,  with  the  most  amusing  seriousness, 
at  one  of  our  monthly  dinners  of  the  Institute, 
at  the  excellent  Champeaux  restaurant,  Place  de 

First  and  Only  Act! 


The  scene  represents  a  public  square;  on  the 
left  the  sign  of  a  famous  tavern.  Enter  from  the 
right  a  Capuchin.  He  stares  at  the  tavern  door. 
He  hesitates ;  then,  finally,  he  decides  to  cross  the 
threshold  and  closes  the  door.  Music  in  the  or- 
chestra— if  desired.  Suddenly,  the  Capuchin 
comes  out  again — enchanted,  assuredly  en- 
chanted by  the  cooking! 

Thus  the  title  of  the  work  is  explained;  it  has 
nothing  to  do  with  fairies  enchanting  a  poor 




The  year  1891  was  marked  by  an  event  whicK 
had  a  profound  effect  on  my  life.  In  the  month 
of  May  of  that  year  the  publishing  house  of  Hart- 
mann  went  out  of  business.  } 

How  did  it  happen?  What  brought  about 
this  catastrophe?  I  asked  myself  these  ques- 
tions but  could  get  no  answer.  It  had  seemed  to 
me  that  all  was  going  as  well  as  could  be  ex- 
pected with  my  publisher.  I  was  utterly  stupe- 
fied at  hearing  that  all  the  works  published  by  the 
house  of  Hartmann  were  to  be  put  up  at  auction; 
that  they  would  have  to  face  the  ordeal  of  a  public 
sale.  For  me  this  was  a  most  disturbing  uncer- 

I  had  a  friend  who  had  a  vault,  and  I  entrusted 
to  him  the  orchestral  score  and  piano  score  of 
Werther  and  the  orchestral  score  of  Amadis. 
He  put  these  valueless  papers  beside  his  valua- 
bles. The  scores  were  in  manuscript. 

I  have  already  written  of  the  fortunes  of 


WertJier,  and  perhaps  I  shall  of  Amadis,  the  text 
of  which  was  by  our  great  friend  Jules  Claretie 
of  the  French  Academy. 

As  may  be  imagined,  my  anxiety  was  very 
great.  I  expected  to  see  my  labor  of  many  years 
scattered  among  all  the  publishers.  Where 
would  Manon  go?  Where  would  Herodiade 
bring  up?  Who  would  get  Marie  Magdeleine? 
Who  would  have  my  Suites  a"  Orchestra?  All 
this  disturbed  my  muddled  brain  and  made  me 

Hartmann  had  always  shown  me  so  much 
friendliness  and  sensitiveness  in  my  interests, 
and  he  was,  I  am  sure,  as  sorrowful  as  I  was 
about  this  painful  situation. 

Henri  Heugel  and  his  nephew  Paul-Emile 
Chevalier,  owners  of  the  great  firm  Le  Menestrel, 
were  my  saviors.  They  were  the  pilots  who  kept 
all  the  works  of  my  past  life  from  shipwreck,  pre- 
vented their  being  scattered,  and  running  the 
risks  of  adventure  and  chance. 

They  acquired  all  of  Hartmann's  assets  and 
paid  a  considerable  price  for  them. 

In  May,  1911,  I  congratulated  them  on  the 
twentieth  anniversary  of  the  good  and  friendly  re- 
lations which  had  existed  between  us  and  at  the 



same  time  I  expressed  the  deep  gratitude  I  cher- 
ish towards  them. 

How  many  times  I  had  passed  by  Le  Menestrel, 
and  envied  without  hostility  those  masters,  those 
published,  all  those  favored  by  that  great  house ! 

My  entrance  to  Le  Menestrel  began  a  glorious 
era  for  me,  and  every  time  I  go  there  I  feel  the 
same  deep  happiness.  All  the  satisfactions  I  en- 
joy as  well  as  the  disappointments  I  experience 
find  a  faithful  echo  in  the  hearts  of  my  publishers. 

Some  years  later  Leon  Carvalho  again  became 
the  manager  at  the  Opera-Comique.  M.  Para- 
vey's  privilege  had  expired. 

I  recall  this  card  from  Carvalho  the  day  after 
he  left  in  1887.  He  had  erased  his  title  of  "di- 
recteur."  It  expressed  perfectly  his  sorrowful 
resignation : 

"My  dear  Master, 

"I  scratch  out  the  title,  but  I  retain  the  mem- 
ory of  my  great  artistic  joys  where  Manon  holds  a 
first  place.  .  .  . 

"What  a  fine  diamond! 


His  first  thought  was  to  revive  Manon  which 
had  disappeared  from  the  bills  since  the  fire  of 



mournful  memory.     This  revival  was  in  Octo- 
ber, 1892. 

Sibyl  Sanderson,  as  I  have  said,  had  been  en- 
gaged for  a  year  at  the  Theatre  de  la  Monnaie  at 
Brussels.  She  played  Esclarmonde  and  Manon. 
Carvalho  took  her  from  the  Monnaie  to  revive 
Manon  in  Paris.  The  work  has  never  left  the 
bills  since  and,  as  I  write  it,  has  reached  its 
763rd  performance. 

At  the  beginning  of  the  same  year  Werther 
was  given  at  Vienna  as  well  as  a  ballet :  Le  Caril- 
lon. The  applauded  collaborators  were  our  Des 
Grieux  and  our  German  Werther:  Ernest  Van 
Dyck  and  de  Roddaz. 

It  was  on  my  return  from  another  visit  to 
Vienna  that  my  faithful  and  precious  collaborator 
Louis  Gallet  paid  me  a  visit  one  day  at  Le  Menes- 
trel.  My  publishers  had  arranged  a  superb 
study  where  I  could  rehearse  my  artists  from 
Paris  and  elsewhere  in  their  parts.  Louis  Gallet 
and  Heugel  proposed  to  me  a  work  on  Anatole 
France's  admirable  romance  Thais. 

I  was  immediately  carried  away  by  the  idea. 
I  could  see  Sanderson  in  the  role  of  Thais.  She 
belonged  to  the  Opera-Comique  so  I  would  do 
the  work  for  that  house. 



Spring  at  last  permitted  me  to  go  to  the  sea- 
shore where  I  have  always  liked  to  live  and  I  left 
Paris  with  my  wife  and  daughter,  taking  with  me 
all  that  I  had  composed  of  the  work  with  so  much 

I  took  with  me  a  friend  who  never  left  me  day 
or  night — an  enormous  gray  Angora  cat  with 
long  silky  hair. 

I  worked  at  a  large  table  placed  on  a  veranda 
against  which  the  waves  of  the  sea  sometimes 
broke  heavily  and  scattered  their  foam.  The  cat 
lay  on  the  table,  sleeping  almost  on  my  pages 
with  an  unceremoniousness  which  delighted  me. 
He  could  not  stand  such  strange  noises  and  every 
time  it  happened  he  pushed  out  his  paws  and 
showed  his  claws  as  if  to  drive  the  sea  away. 

I  know  some  one  else  who  loves  cats,  not  more 
but  as  much  as  I  do,  the  gracious  Countess  Marie 
de  Yourkevitch,  who  won  the  grand  gold  medal 
for  piano  playing  at  the  Imperial  Conservatoire  of 
Music  at  St.  Petersburg.  She  has  lived  in  Paris 
for  some  years  in  a  luxurious  apartment  where 
she  is  surrounded  by  dogs  and  cats,  her  great 

"Who  loves  animals,  loves  people,"  and  we 


know  that  the  Countess  is  a  true  Maecenas  to  ar- 

The  exquisite  poet  Jeanne  Dortzal  is  also  a 
friend  of  these  felines  with  the  deep-green  enig- 
matic eyes ;  they  are  the  companions  of  her  work- 
ing hours. 

I  finished  Thais  at  the  Rue  du  General  Foy,  in 
my  bedroom  where  nothing  broke  the  silence  ex- 
cept the  crackling  of  the  Yule  logs  which  burned 
in  the  fireplace. 

At  that  time  I  did  not  have  a  mass  of  letters 
which  I  must  answer,  as  is  the  case  now ;  I  did  not 
receive  a  quantity  of  books  which  I  must  run 
over  so  that  I  could  thank  the  authors;  neither 
was  I  absorbed  in  incessant  rehearsals,  in  short, 
I  did  not  lead  the  sort  of  a  life  I  would  willingly 
qualify  as  infernal,  if  it  were  not  my  rule  not  to  go 
out  in  the  evening. 

At  six  in  the  morning  I  received  a  call  from  my 
masseur.  His  cares  were  made  necessary  by 
rheumatism  in  my  right  hand,  and  I  had  some 
trouble  with  it. 

Even  at  this  early  morning  hour  I  had  been 
at  work  for  some  time,  and  this  practitioner,  Im- 
bert,  who  was  in  high  good  standing  with  his  cli- 



ents,  brought  me  morning  greetings  from  Alex- 
ander Dumas  the  Younger  from  whose  house  he 
had  just  come.  As  he  came,  he  said,  "I  left  the 
master  with  his  candles  lighted,  his  beard 
trimmed,  and  comfortably  installed  in  his  white 
dressing  gown." 

One  morning  he  brought  me  these  words — a 
reply  to  a  reproach  I  had  allowed  myself  to  make 
to  him: 

"Confess  that  you  thought  that  I  had  forgotten 
you,  man  of  little  faith. 

"A.  DUMAS." 

Between  whiles,  and  it  was  a  delightful  distrac- 
tion, I  had  written  Le  Portrait  de  Manon,  a  de- 
lightful act  by  Georges  Boyer,  to  whom  I  already 
owed  the  text  of  Les  Enfants. 

Some  good  friends  of  mine,  Auguste  Cain,  the 
famous  sculptor  of  animals,  and  his  dear  wife, 
had  been  generous  and  useful  to  me  in  difficult 
circumstances,  and  I  was  delighted  to  applaud 
the  first  dramatic  work  of  their  son  Henri  Cain. 
His  success  with  La  Vivandiere  affirmed  his  talent 
still  more.  The  music  of  this  work  in  three  acts 
was  the  swan  song  of  the  genial  Benjamin  God- 



ard.  Ah!  the  dear  great  musician  who  was  a 
real  poet  from  his  youth  up,  in  the  first  bars  he 
wrote.  Who  does  not  remember  his  masterpiece 
Le  Tasse? 

As  I  was  strolling  one  day  in  the  gardens  of  the 
dismal  palace  of  the  dukes  d'Este  at  Ferrare,  I 
picked  a  branch  of  oleander  which  was  just  in 
blossom  and  sent  it  to  my  friend.  My  gift  re- 
called the  incomparable  duet  in  the  first  act  of 
Le  Tasse. 

During  the  summer  of  1893  my  wife  and  I 
went  to  Avignon.  This  city  of  the  popes,  the 
terre  papale,  as  Rabelais  called  it,  attracted  me 
almost  as  much  as  that  other  city  of  the  popes, 
ancient  Rome. 

We  lived  at  the  excellent  Hotel  de  1'Europe, 
Place  Grillon.  Our  hosts,  M.  and  Mme.  Ville, 
were  worthy  and  obliging  persons  and  were  full 
of  attention  for  us.  That  was  imperative  for  I 
needed  quiet  to  write  La  Navarraise,  the  act 
which  Jules  Claretie  had  entrusted  to  me  and  my 
new  librettist  Henri  Cain. 

Every  evening  at  five  o'clock  our  hosts,  who 
had  forbidden  our  door  all  day  with  jealous  care, 
served  us  a  delicious  lunch.  My  friends,  the 



Provengal  poets,  used  to  gather  around,  and 
among  them  was  Felix  Gras,  one  of  my  dearest 

One  day  we  decided  to  pay  a  visit  to  Frederic 
Mistral,  the  immortal  poet  of  Provence  who 
played  a  large  part  in  the  renaissance  of  the 
poetic  language  of  the  South. 

He  received  us  with  Mme.  Mistral  at  his  home 
— which  his  presence  made  ideal — at  Millane. 
He  showed  when  he  talked  that  he  knew  not  only 
the  science  of  Form  hut  also  that  general  knowl- 
edge which  makes  great  writers  and  makes  a  poet 
of  an  artist.  As  we  saw  him  we  recalled  that 
Belle  d'aout,  the  poetical  story  full  of  tears  and 
terrors,  then  the  great  epic  of  Mirelle,  and  so 
many  other  famous  works  besides. 

By  his  walk  and  vigor  one  recognized  him  as 
the  child  of  the  country,  but  he  was  a  gentleman 
farmer,  as  the  English  say;  although  he  is  not 
any  more  a  peasant  on  that  account,  as  he  wrote 
to  Lamartine,  than  Paul-Louis  Courier,  the  bril- 
liant and  witty  pamphleteer,  was  a  cultivator  of 

We  returned  to  Avignon  full  of  the  inexpres- 
sible enveloping  charm  of  the  hours  we  had 
passed  in  the  house  of  this  great,  illustrious  poet. 



The  following  winter  was  entirely  devoted  to 
the  rehearsals  of  Thais  at  the  Opera.  I  say  at 
the  Opera  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  I  wrote  the 
work  for  the  Opera-Comique  where  Sanderson 
was  engaged.  She  triumphed  there  in  Manon 
three  times  a  week. 

What  made  me  change  the  theater?  Sander- 
son was  dazzled  by  the  idea  of  entering  the  Opera, 
and  she  signed  a  contract  with  Gailhard  without 
even  taking  the  mere  trouble  of  informing  Car- 
valho  first. 

Heugel  and  I  were  greatly  surprised  when  Gail- 
hard  told  us  that  he  was  going  to  give  Thais  at 
the  Opera  with  Sibyl  Sanderson.  "You've  got 
the  artist ;  the  work  will  follow  her ! "  There  was 
nothing  else  for  me  to  say.  I  remember,  how- 
ever, how  bitterly  Carvalho  reproached  me.  He 
almost  accused  me  of  ingratitude,  and  God  knows 
that  I  did  not  deserve  that. 

Thais  was  interpreted  by  Sibyl  Sanderson; 
J.  F.  Delmas,  who  made  the  role  of  Athanael  one 
of  his  most  important  creations;  Alvarez,  who 
consented  to  play  the  role  of  Nicias,  and  Mme. 
Heglon,  who  also  acted  in  the  part  which  de- 
volved upon  her. 

As  I  listened  to  the  final  rehearsals  in  the 


depths  of  the  empty  theater,  I  lived  over  again  my 
ecstatic  moments  before  the  remains  of  Thai's  of 
Antinoe,  beside  the  anchorite,  who  had  been  be- 
witched by  her  grace  and  charm.  We  owed  this 
impressive  spectacle  which  was  so  well  calculated 
to  impress  the  imagination  to  a  glass  case  in  the 
Guimet  Museum. 

The  evening  of  the  dress  rehearsal  of  Thais  I 
escaped  from  Paris  and  went  to  Dieppe  and  Pour- 
ville,  with  the  sole  purpose  of  being  alone  and 
free  from  the  excitements  of  the  great  city.  I 
have  said  already  that  I  always  tear  myself  away 
in  this  fashion  from  the  feverish  uncertainties 
which  hover  over  every  work  when  it  faces  the 
public  for  the  first  time.  No  one  can  tell  before- 
hand the  feeling  that  will  move  the  public, 
whether  its  prejudices  or  sympathies  will  draw  it 
towards  a  work  or  turn  it  against  it.  I  feel  weak 
before  the  baffling  enigma,  and  had  I  a  conscience 
a  thousand  times  more  tranquil,  I  would  not 
want  to  attempt  to  pierce  the  mystery! 

The  day  after  my  return  to  Paris  Bertrand  and 
Gailhard,  the  two  directors  of  the  Opera,  called 
on  me.  They  appeared  to  be  down  at  the  mouth. 
I  could  only  get  sighs  from  them  or  a  word  or 
two,  which  in  their  laconicism  spoke  volumes, 



"The  press !  Immoral  subject !  It's  done  for!" 
These  words  were  so  many  indications  of  what  the 
performance  must  have  been. 

So  I  told  myself.  Nevertheless  seventeen 
years  have  gone  and  the  piece  is  still  on  the  bills, 
and  has  been  played  in  the  provinces  and  abroad, 
while  at  the  Opera  itself  Thais  has  long  since 
passed  its  hundredth  performance. 

Never  have  I  so  regretted  letting  myself  go  in 
a  moment  of  disappointment.  It  is  true  that  it 
was  only  a  passing  one.  Could  I  foresee  that  I 
should  see  again  this  same  score  of  Thais,  dated 
1894,  in  the  salon  of  Sibyl  Sanderson's  mother, 
on  the  music  rest  of  the  very  piano  at  which  that 
fine  artiste,  long  since  no  more,  studied? 

To  accustom  the  public  to  the  work,  the  direc- 
tors of  the  Opera  associated  with  it  a  ballet  from 
the  repertoire.  Subsequently  Gailhard  saw  that 
the  work  pleased,  and  in  order  to  make  it  the  only 
performance  of  the  evening  he  asked  me  to  add 
a  tableau,  the  Oasis,  and  a  ballet  to  the  third  act. 
Mile.  Berthet  created  this  new  tableau  and  Zam- 
belli  incarnated  the  new  ballet. 

Later,  the  title  role  was  sung  in  Paris  by  Miles. 
Alice  Verlet  and  Mary  Garden  and  Mme.  Kous- 
nezoff.  I  owe  some  superb  nights  at  the  Opera 



to  them.  Genevieve  Vix  and  Mastio  sang  it  in 
other  cities.  I  wait  to  speak  of  Lina  Cavalieri 
for  she  was  to  be  the  creator  of  the  work  at  Milan, 
October,  1903.  This  creation  was  the  occasion 
for  my  last  journey  to  Italy  up  to  now. 




I  regret  all  the  more  that  I  have  given  up  trav- 
eling, for  I  seem  to  have  become  lazy  in  this  re- 
gard, since  my  visits  to  Milan  were  always  so  de- 
lightful— I  was  going  to  say  adorable — thanks 
to  the  friendly  Edouard  Sonzogno,  who  con- 
stantly paid  me  the  most  delicate  and  kindly  at- 

What  delightful  receptions,  and  perfectly  ar- 
ranged and  elaborate  dinners,  we  had  at  the  fine 
mansion  at  11  Via  Goito!  What  bursts  of 
laughter  and  gay  sallies  there  were;  what  truly 
enchanted  hours  I  passed  there,  with  my  Italian 
confreres,  invited  to  the  same  love-feast  as  I,  at 
the  house  of  the  most  gracious  of  hosts :  Umberto 
Giordano,  Cilea  and  many  others ! 

In  this  great  city  I  had  excellent  friends  and 
illustrious  ones  as  well,  as  Mascagni  and  Leonca- 
vallo, whom  I  had  known  before  and  had  had  as 
friends  in  Paris.  They  did  not  then  foresee  the 



magnificent  situation  they  would  create  for  them- 
selves one  day  at  the  theater. 

In  Milan  my  old  friend  and  publisher  Giulio 
Ricordi  also  invited  me  to  his  table.  I  was  sin- 
cerely moved  at  finding  myself  again  in  the  bosom 
of  the  Ricordi  family  to  whom  I  was  attached  by 
so  many  charming  memories.  It  is  unnecessary 
to  add  that  we  drank  to  the  health  of  the  illustri- 
ous Puccini. 

Among  my  memories  of  Milan  I  have  kept  the 
recollection  of  being  present  at  Caruso's  debut. 
The  now  famous  tenor  was  very  modest  then; 
and  when,  a  year  afterwards,  I  saw  him  wrapped 
in  an  ample  fur-coat,  it  was  obvious  that  the  fig- 
ures of  his  salary  must  have  mounted  crescendo. 
As  I  saw  him  I  did  not  envy  him  his  brilliant  for- 
tune or  his  undoubted  talent,  but  I  did  regret — 
that  winter  especially — that  I  could  not  put  his 
rich  warm  coat  on  my  back.  ...  It  snowed,  in- 
deed, in  Milan,  in  large  and  seemingly  endless 
flakes.  It  was  a  hard  winter.  I  remember  that 
once  I  hadn't  enough  bread  from  my  breakfast  to 
satisfy  the  appetite  of  some  thirty  pigeons  which, 
shivering  and  trembling  with  cold,  came  to  my 
balcony  for  shelter.  Poor  dear  little  creatures! 
I  regretted  that  I  could  not  do  more  for  them. 



And  involuntarily  I  thought  of  their  sisters  in  the 
Piazza  Saint  Marc,  so  pretty,  so  friendly,  who  at 
that  instant  must  be  just  as  cold. 

I  have  to  confess  to  a  flagrant  but  entirely  inno- 
cent joke  that  I  played  at  a  dinner  of  Sonzogno's, 
the  publisher.  Everyone  knew  of  the  strained 
relations  between  him  and  Ricordi.  I  slipped 
into  the  dining  room  before  any  of  the  guests  had 
gone  in  and  placed  under  Sonzogno's  napkin  an 
Orsini  bomb,  which  I  had  bought  and  which  was 
really  awe  inspiring — be  reassured,  it  was  only 
of  cardboard  and  from  the  confectioner's.  Be- 
side this  inoffensive  explosive  I  placed  Ricordi's 
card.  The  joke  was  a  great  success.  The  din- 
ers laughed  so  much  that  during  the  whole  meal 
nothing  else  was  talked  about  and  little  attention 
was  paid  to  the  menu,  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  we 
knew  that  it  must  inevitably  be  appetizing,  like 
all  those  to  which  we  had  to  do  honor  in  that  opu- 
lent house. 

I  always  had  the  glorious  good  fortune  to  have 
as  my  interpreter  of  Sapho  in  Italy  La  Bellincioni, 
the  Duse  of  opera.  In  1911  she  continued  her 
triumphal  career  at  the  Opera  in  Paris. 

I  have  mentioned  that  Cavalieri  was  to  create 
Thais  in  Milan.  Sonzogno  insisted  strongly  that 





I  should  let  her  see  the  part  before  I  left.  I 
remember  the  considerable  success  she  had  in  the 
work — al  teatro  lirico  of  Milan.  Her  beauty, 
her  admirable  plasticity,  the  warmth  and  color  of 
her  voice,  her  passionate  outbursts  simply 
gripped  the  public  which  praised  her  to  the  skies. 

She  invited  me  to  a  farewell  dinner  at  the  Hotel 
de  Milan.  The  table  was  covered  with  flowers 
and  it  was  laid  in  a  large  room  adjoining  the 
bedroom  where  Verdi  had  died  two  years  before. 
The  room  was  still  furnished  just  as  it  had  been 
when  the  illustrious  composer  lived  there.  The 
great  master's  grand  piano  was  still  there,  and  on 
the  table  where  he  had  worked  were  the  inkstand, 
the  pen  and  the  blotting  paper  which  still  bore 
the  marks  of  the  notes  he  had  traced.  The  dress 
shirt — the  last  one  he  wore — hung  on  the  wall 
and  one  could  still  see  the  lines  of  the  body  it 
had  covered.  ...  A  detail  which  hurt  my  feel- 
ings and  which  only  the  greedy  curiosity  of 
strangers  can  account  for,  was  that  bits  of  the 
linen  had  been  boldly  cut  off  and  carried  away  as 

Verdi!  The  name  signifies  the  whole  of  vic- 
torious Italy  from  Victor  Emanuel  II  down  to  our 
own  times.  Bellini,  on  the  other  hand,  is  the 



image  of  unhappy  Italy  under  the  yoke  of  the 

A  little  while  after  the  death  of  Bellini  in  1835 
— that  never  to  be  forgotten  author  of  La  Som- 
nanbula  and  La  Norma — Verdi,  the  immortal 
creator  of  so  many  masterpieces,  came  on  the 
scene  and  with  rare  fertility  never  ceased  to  pro- 
duce his  marvellous  works  which  are  in  the  reper- 
toire of  all  the  theaters  in  the  world. 

About  two  weeks  before  Verdi's  death  I  found 
at  my  hotel  the  great  man's  card  with  his  regards 
and  best  wishes. 

In  a  remarkable  study  of  Verdi  Camille  Bel- 
laigue  uses  the  following  words  about  the  great 
master.  They  are  as  just  as  they  are  beautiful. 

"He  died  on  January  27,  1901,  in  his  eighty- 
eighth  year.  In  him  music  lost  some  of  its 
strength,  light  and  joy.  Henceforth  a  great, 
necessary  voice  will  be  missing  from  the  balance 
of  the  European  'concert.'  A  splendid  bower 
has  fallen  from  the  chaplet  of  Latin  genius.  I 
cannot  think  of  Verdi  without  recalling  that  fa- 
mous phrase  of  Nietzsche,  who  had  come  back 
from  Wagnerism  and  had  already  turned  against 
the  composer:  'Music  must  be  Mediterranean- 
ized.'  Certainly  not  all  music.  But  to-day  as 



the  old  master  has  departed,  that  glorious  host  of 
the  Doria  palace,  from  which  each  winter  his 
deep  gaze  soared  over  the  azure  of  the  Ligurian 
sea,  one  may  well  ask  who  is  to  preserve  the  rights 
and  influence  of  the  Mediterranean  in  music?" 

To  add  another  of  my  memories  of  Thais  I  re- 
call two  letters  which  must  have  touched  me 

August  1,  1892 

...  I  brought  a  little  doll  Thai's  to  the  Insti- 
tute for  you,  and  as  I  was  going  to  the  country 
after  the  session  and  you  were  not  there,  I  left  it 
with  Bonvalot  and  begged  him  to  handle  her  care- 
fully. .  .  . 

I  return  in  a  day  or  so,  for  on  Saturday  we 
receive  Fremiet  who  wishes  me  to  thank  you  for 
voting  for  him. 


I  wanted  this  colored  statuette  by  my  illustri- 
ous colleague  to  place  on  my  table  as  I  wrote 
Thais.  I  have  always  liked  to  have  before  my 
eyes  an  image  or  a  symbol  of  the  work  on  which 
I  am  engaged. 

The  second  letter  I  received  the  day  after  the 
first  performance  of  Thais  at  the  Opera. 



Dear  Master: 

You  have  lifted  my  poor  Thais  to  the  first  rank 
of  operatic  heroines.  You  are  my  sweetest 
glory.  I  am  delighted.  "Assieds-toi  pres  de 
nous,"  the  aria  to  Love,  the  final  duet,  is  charm- 
ingly beautiful. 

I  am  happy  and  proud  at  having  furnished  you 
with  the  theme  on  which  you  have  developed  the 
most  inspiring  phrases.  I  grasp  your  hand  with 


I  had  already  been  to  Covent  Garden  twice. 
First,  for  Le  Roi  de  Lahore,  and  then  for  Manon 
which  was  sung  by  Sanderson  and  Van  Dyck. 

I  went  back  again  for  the  rehearsals  of  La  Nav- 
arraise.  Our  principal  artists  were  Emma 
Calve,  Alvarez  and  Plancon. 

The  rehearsals  with  Emma  Calve  were  a  great 
honor  for  me  and  a  great  joy  as  well,  which  I  was 
to  renew  later  in  the  rehearsals  for  Sapho  in 

The  Prince  of  Wales,  later  Edward  VII,  at- 
tended the  first  performance  of  La  Navarraise. 

The  recalls  of  the  artists  were  so  numerous  and 
enthusiastic  that  finally  they  called  for  me.  As 
I  did  not  appear,  for  the  good  reason  that  I  was 
not  there,  and  could  not  be  presented  to  the 



Prince  of  Wales  who  wanted  to  congratulate  me, 
the  manager  could  find  only  this  way  to  excuse 
me  both  to  the  prince  and  to  the  public.  He 
came  on  the  stage  and  said,  "M.  Massenet  is  out- 
side smoking  a  cigarette  and  won't  come." 

Doubtless  this  was  true,  but  "the  whole  truth 
should  not  always  be  spoken." 

I  returned  on  board  the  boat  with  my  wife, 
Heugel,  my  dear  publisher,  and  Adrien  Bern- 
heim,  the  Governmental  Commissary  General  of 
the  subsidized  theaters,  who  had  honored  the  per- 
formance with  his  presence.  Ever  since  he  has 
been  one  of  my  most  charming  and  dearest 

I  learned  that  her  Majesty  Queen  Victoria  sum- 
moned Emma  Calve  to  Windsor  to  sing  La  Nav- 
arraise,  and  I  was  told  that  they  improvised  a 
stage  setting  in  the  queen's  own  drawing  room, 
which  was  most  picturesque  but  primitive.  The 
Barricade  was  represented  by  a  pile  of  pillows 
and  down  quilts. 

Have  I  said  that  in  the  month  of  May  preced- 
ing La  Navarraise  in  London  (June  20,  1894), 
the  Opera-Comique  gave  Le  Portrait  de  Manon, 
an  exquisite  act  by  Georges  Boyer,  which  was  de- 



lightfully  interpreted  by  Fugere,  Grivot  and  Mile. 

Many  of  the  phrases  of  Manon  reappeared 
in  the  work.  The  subject  prompted  me  to  this, 
for  it  is  concerned  with  Des  Grieux  at  forty,  a 
poetical  souvenir  of  Manon  long  since  dead. 

Between  whiles  I  again  visited  Bayreuth.  I 
went  to  applaud  the  Meister singers  of  Nurem- 

Richard  Wagner  had  not  been  there  for  many  a 
long  year,  but  his  titanic  soul  ruled  over  all  the 
performances.  As  I  strolled  in  the  gardens 
about  the  theater  at  Bayreuth,  I  recalled  that  I 
had  known  him  in  1861.  I  had  lived  for  ten 
days  in  a  small  room  near  him  in  the  Chateau  de 
Plessis-Trevise,  which  belonged  to  the  celebrated 
tenor  Gustave  Roger.  Roger  knew  German  and 
offered  to  do  the  French  translation  of  Tann- 
hauser.  So  Richard  Wagner  came  to  live  with 
him  properly  to  set  the  French  words  to  music. 

I  still  remember  his  vigorous  interpretation 
when  he  played  on  the  piano  fragments  of  that 
masterpiece,  then  so  clumsily  misunderstood  and 
now  so  much  admired  by  the  whole  world  of  art 
and  music. 




Henri  Cain  had  accompanied  us  to  London  and 
came  to  see  me  at  the  Cavendish  Hotel,  Jermyn 
Street,  where  I  was  staying. 

We  remained  in  conference  for  several  hours 
reviewing  different  subjects  which  were  suitable 
for  works  to  occupy  me  in  the  future.  Finally 
we  agreed  on  the  fairy  story  of  Cinderilla:  Cen- 

I  returned  to  Pont  de  1'Arche — a  new  home 
for  my  wife  and  me — to  work  during  the  sum- 

Our  home  was  most  interesting  and  even  had  a 
historical  value.  A  massive  door  hung  on  enor- 
mous hinges  gave  access  on  the  street  side  to  an 
old  mansion.  It  was  bordered  by  a  terrace  which 
looked  down  on  the  valley  of  the  Seine  and  the 
Andelle.  La  Belle  Normandie  indeed  offered  us 
the  delightful  spectacle  of  her  smiling,  magnifi- 
cent plains  and  her  rich  pastures  stretching  to 
the  horizon  and  beyond. 



The  Duchess  of  Longueville,  the  famous  hero- 
ine of  La  Fronde,  had  lived  in  this  house — it  was 
the  place  of  her  loves.  The  seductive  Duchess 
with  her  pleasant  address  and  gestures,  together 
with  the  expression  of  her  face  and  the  tone  of 
her  voice,  made  a  marvellous  harmony.  So  much 
so  that  a  Jansenist  writer  of  the  period  said,  "She 
was  the  most  perfect  actress  in  the  world." 
This  splendid  woman  here  sheltered  her  charms 
and  rare  beauty.  One  must  believe  that  they 
have  not  exaggerated  about  her  for  Victor  Cousin 
became  her  posthumous  lover  (along  with  the 
Due  de  Coligny,  Marcillac,  the  Due  de  la  Roche- 
foucauld, and  the  great  Turenne;  he  might  have 
been  in  less  brilliant  company) ;  but  as  we  said, 
the  illustrious  eclectic  philosopher  dedicated  to 
her  a  work  which  was  no  doubt  admirable  in 
style  but  which  is  still  considered  one  of  the  most 
complete  examples  of  modern  learning. 

She  was  born  a  Bourbon  Conde,  the  daughter 
of  the  Prince  of  Orleans,  and  the  fleurs  de  lys 
which  were  hers  by  right  were  still  visible  on  the 
keystones  of  the  window  arches  of  our  little  cha- 

There  was  a  large  white  salon  with  delicately 
carved  woodwork,  which  was  lighted  by  three  win- 



dows  overlooking  the  terrace.  It  was  a  perfectly 
preserved  masterpiece  of  the  Seventeenth  Cen- 

The  room  where  I  worked  was  also  lighted  by 
three  windows  and  here  one  could  admire  a  man- 
tel, a  real  marvel  of  art  in  Louis  XIV  style.  I 
found  a  large  table  of  the  same  period  at  Rouen. 
I  was  at  ease  at  it  because  I  could  arrange  the 
leaves  of  my  orchestral  score  on  it. 

It  was  at  Pont  de  1'Arche  that  I  learned  one 
morning  of  Mme.  Carvalho's  death.  This  was 
bound  to  plunge  the  art  of  singing  and  the  stage 
in  deep  mourning  for  she  had  been  with  her  mas- 
terly talent  the  incarnation  of  both  for  long  years. 
Here  too  I  received  the  visit  of  my  director,  Leon 
Carvalho,  who  was  terribly  stricken  by  her  death. 
He  was  overcome  by  this  irreparable  loss. 

Carvalho  came  to  ask  me  to  finish  the  music 
of  La  Vivandiere,  a  work  on  which  Benjamin  God- 
ard  was  working,  but  which  the  state  of  his  health 
led  them  to  fear  he  would  never  finish. 

I  refused  this  request  curtly.  I  knew  Ben- 
jamin Godard  and  his  strong-mindedness  as  well 
as  the  wealth  and  liveliness  of  his  inspiration.  I 
asked  Carvalho  not  to  tell  of  his  visit  and  to  let 
Benjamin  Godard  finish  his  own  work. 



That  day  ended  with  a  rather  drole  incident. 
I  set  out  to  get  a  large  carriage  to  take  my  guests 
to  the  station.  At  the  appointed  time  an  open 
landau  appeared  at  my  door.  It  had  at  least  six- 
teen springs,  was  lined  with  blue  satin,  and  one 
got  in  by  a  triple  step-ladder  arrangement  which' 
folded  up  when  the  door  was  closed.  Two  thin, 
lanky  white  horses,  real  Rossinantes,  were  har- 
nessed to  it. 

My  guests  at  once  recognized  this  historic 
looking  coach  for  they  had  often  met  its  owners 
riding  in  it  on  the  Bois  de  Boulogne.  Public 
malice  had  found  these  people  so  ridiculous  that 
they  had  given  them  a  nickname  which  in  the 
interests  of  decorum  I  must  refrain  from  men- 
tioning. I  will  only  say  that  it  was  borrowed 
from  the  vocabulary  of  zoology. 

Never  had  the  streets  of  that  little  town, 
usually  so  calm  and  peaceful,  echoed  with  such 
shouts  of  laughter.  They  did  not  stop  till  the 
station  was  reached,  and  I  will  not  swear  that 
they  were  not  prolonged  after  that. 

Carvalho  decided  to  give  La  Navarraise  at  the 
Opera-Comique  in  May,  1895. 

I  went  to  Nice  to  finish  Cendrillon  at  the  Hotel 


de  Suede.  We  were  absolutely  spoiled  by  our 
charming  hosts  M.  and  Mme.  Roubion.  When 
I  was  settled  at  Nice,  I  got  away  to  Milan  for 
ten  days  to  give  hints  to  the  artists  of  the  admir- 
able La  Scala  Theatre  who  were  rehearsing  La 
Navarraise.  The  protagonist  was  Lison  Fran- 
din,  an  artist  known  and  loved  by  all  Italy. 

As  I  knew  that  Verdi  was  at  Genoa,  I  took  ad- 
vantage of  passing  through  that  city  on  the  way 
to  Milan  to  pay  him  a  visit. 

When  I  arrived  at  the  first  floor  of  the  old  pal- 
ace of  the  Dorias,  where  he  lived,  I  was  able  to 
decipher  on  a  card  nailed  to  the  door  in  a  dark 
passage  the  name  which  radiates  so  many  mem- 
ories of  enthusiasm  and  glory:  Verdi. 

He  opened  the  door  himself.  I  stood  non- 
plussed. His  sincerity,  graciousness  and  the  no- 
bility which  his  tall  stature  gave  his  whole  per- 
son soon  drew  us  together. 

I  passed  unutterably  charming  moments  in  his 
presence,  as  we  talked  with  the  most  delightful 
simplicity  in  his  bedroom  and  then  on  the  terrace 
of  his  sitting  room  from  which  we  looked  over  the 
port  of  Genoa  and  beyond  on  the  deep  sea  as  far 
as  the  eye  could  reach.  I  had  the  illusion  that 



he  was  one  of  the  Dorias  proudly  showing  me  his 
victorious  fleets. 

As  I  was  leaving,  I  was  drawn  to  remark  that 
"now  I  had  visited  him,  I  was  in  Italy." 

As  I  was  about  to  pick  up  the  valise  I  had  left 
in  a  dark  corner  of  the  large  reception  room, 
where  I  had  noticed  tall  gilt  chairs  which  were  in 
the  Italian  taste  of  the  Eighteenth  Century,  I  told 
him  that  it  contained  manuscripts  which  never 
left  me  on  my  travels.  Verdi  seized  my  luggage, 
briskly,  and  said  he  did  exactly  as  I  did,  for  he 
never  wanted  to  be  parted  from  his  work  on  a 

How  much  I  would  have  preferred  to  have  had 
his  music  in  my  valise  instead  of  my  own !  The 
master  even  accompanied  me  across  the  garden 
of  his  lordly  dwelling  to  my  carriage. 

When  I  got  back  to  Paris  in  February,  I 
learned  with  the  keenest  emotion  that  my  master 
Ambroise  Thomas  was  dangerously  ill. 

Although  far  from  well  he  had  dared  the  cold 
to  attend  a  festival  at  the  Opera  where  they  had 
played  the  whole  of  that  terrible,  superb  prelude 
to  Frangoise  de  Rimini. 



They  encored  the  prelude  and  applauded  Am- 
broise  Thomas. 

My  master  was  the  more  moved  by  this  recep- 
tion, as  he  had  not  forgotten  how  cruelly  severe 
they  had  shown  themselves  toward  this  fine  work 
at  the  Opera. 

He  went  from  the  theater  to  the  apartment  he 
occupied  at  the  Conservatoire  and  went  to  bed. 
He  never  got  up  again. 

The  sky  was  clear  and  cloudless  that  day,  and 
the  sun  shone  with  its  softest  brilliance  in  my 
venerated  master's  room  and  caressed  the  cur- 
tains of  his  bed  of  pain.  The  last  words  he  said 
were  a  salutation  to  gladsome  nature  which 
smiled  upon  him  for  the  last  time.  "To  die  in 
weather  so  beautiful,"  he  said,  and  that  was  all. 

He  laid  in  state  in  the  columned  vestibule  of 
which  I  have  spoken,  at  the  foot  of  the  great  stair- 
case leading  to  the  president's  loge  which  he  had 
honored  with  his  presence  for  twenty-five  years. 

The  third  day  after  his  death,  I  delivered  his 
funeral  oration  in  the  name  of  the  Societe  des 
Auteurs  et  Compositeurs  Dramatiques.  I  began 
as  follows. 

"It  is  said  that  a  king  of  France  in  the  pres- 
ence of  the  body  of  a  powerful  seigneur  of  his 



court  could  not  help  saying,  'How  tall  he  was!' 
So  he  who  rests  here  before  us  seemed  tall  to  us, 
being  of  those  whose  height  is  only  realized  after 

"To  see  him  pass  in  life  so  simple  and  calm,  in 
his  dream  of  art,  who  of  us,  accustomed  to  feel 
him  kindly  and  forbearing  always  at  our  sides, 
has  seen  that  he  was  so  tall  that  we  had  to  raise 
our  eyes  to  look  him  fairly  in  the  face." 

Here  my  eyes  filled  with  tears  and  my  voice 
seemed  to  die  away  strangled  with  emotion. 
Nevertheless  I  contained  myself,  mastered  my 
grief,  and  continued  my  discourse.  I  knew  that 
I  should  have  time  enough  for  weeping. 

It  was  very  painful  to  me  on  that  occasion  to 
see  the  envious  looks  of  those  who  already  saw  in 
me  my  master's  successor  at  the  Conservatoire. 
And  as  a  matter  of  fact,  this  is  exactly  what  hap- 
pened, for  a  little  afterwards  I  was  summoned  to 
the  Ministry  of  Public  Instruction.  At  the  time 
the  Minister  was  my  confrere  at  the  Institute, 
Rambaud  the  eminent  historian,  and  at  the  head 
of  the  Beaux- Arts  as  director  was  Henri  Roujon, 
since  a  member  of  the  Academic  des  Beaux- Arts 
and  the  permanent  secretary. 

The  directorship  of  the  Conservatoire  was  of- 


fered  me.  I  declined  the  honor  as  I  did  not  want 
to  interrupt  my  life  at  the  theater  which  took  my 
whole  time. 

In  1905  the  directorship  was  offered  me  again, 
but  I  refused  for  the  same  reason. 

Naturally,  I  tendered  my  resignation  as  profes- 
sor of  composition  at  the  Conservatoire.  I  had 
only  accepted  and  held  the  situation  because  it 
brought  me  in  touch  with  my  Director  whom  I 
loved  so  much. 

Free  at  last  and  loosed  from  my  chains  for- 
ever, during  the  first  days  of  summer  my  wife 
and  I  started  for  the  mountains  of  Auvergne. 



At  the  beginning  of  the  preceding  winter, 
Henri  Cain  proposed  to  Henri  Heugel  a  text  for 
an  opera  based  on  Alphonse  Daudet's  famous  ro- 
mance Sapho.  He  went  to  Heugel  in  order  that 
I  might  the  more  certainly  accept  it,  for  he  knew 
the  influence  my  publisher  had  with  me. 

I  had  gone  to  the  mountains  with  a  light  heart. 
There  was  to  be  no  directing  the  Conservatoire 
and  no  more  classes ;  I  felt  twenty  years  younger. 
I  wrote  Sapho  with  an  enthusiasm  I  had  rarely 
felt  up  to  that  time. 

We  lived  in  a  villa,  and  I  felt  far  removed  from 
everything,  the  noise,  the  tumult,  the  incessant 
movement  and  feverish  activity  of  the  city.  We 
went  for  walks  and  excursions  through  the  beau- 
tiful country  which  has  been  praised  so  much  for 
the  variety  of  its  scenery,  but  which  was  still  too 
much  unknown.  The  only  accompaniment  of 
our  thoughts  was  the  murmur  of  the  waters  which 
flowed  along  the  roadside ;  their  freshness  rose  up 
to  us,  and  often  it  was  from  a  bubbling  spring 



which  broke  the  quiet  of  luxuriant  nature. 
Eagles,  too,  came  down  from  their  steep  rocks, 
"Thunder's  abode,"  as  Lamartine  said,  and  sur- 
prised us  by  their  bold  flights  as  they  made  the 
air  echo  with  their  shrill,  piercing  cries. 

Even  while  I  journeyed,  my  mind  was  work- 
ing and  on  my  return  the  pages  accumulated. 

I  became  enamored  with  this  work  and  I  re- 
joiced in  advance  at  letting  Alphonse  Daudet 
hear  it,  for  he  was  a  very  dear  friend  whom  I  had 
known  when  we  were  both  young. 

If  I  insist  somewhat  of  speaking  of  that  time, 
it  is  because  four  works  above  all  others  in  my 
long  career  gave  me  such  joy  in  the  doing  that  I 
freely  describe  it  as  exquisite :  Marie  Magdeleine, 
WertheT,  Sapho,  and  Therese. 

At  the  beginning  of  September  of  that  year  an 
amusing  incident  happened.  The  Emperor  of 
Russia  came  to  Paris.  The  entire  population — 
this  is  no  exaggeration — was  out  of  doors  to  see 
the  procession  pass  through  the  avenues  and 
boulevards.  The  people  drawn  by  curiosity  had 
come  from  everywhere ;  the  estimate  of  a  million 
people  does  not  seem  exaggerated. 

We  did  what  everyone  else  did,  and  our  serv- 
ants went  at  the  same  time;  our  apartment  was 



empty.  We  were  at  the  house  of  friends  at  a  win- 
dow overlooking  the  Pare  Monceau.  The  pro- 
cession had  scarcely  passed  when  we  were  sud- 
denly seized  with  anxiety  at  the  idea  that  the  time 
was  particularly  propitious  for  burglarizing  de- 
serted apartments  and  we  rushed  home. 

When  we  reached  our  threshold  whispers  were 
coming  from  inside,  which  put  us  in  a  lively  flut- 
ter. We  knew  our  servants  were  out.  It  had 
happened !  Burglars  had  broken  in ! 

We  were  shocked  at  the  idea,  but  we  went 
in  ...  and  saw  in  the  salon  Emma  Calve  and 
Henri  Cain  who  were  waiting  for  us  and  talking 
together  in  the  meantime.  We  were  struck  in  a 
heap.  Tableau !  We  all  burst  out  laughing  at 
this  curious  adventure.  Our  servants  had  come 
back  before  we  had,  and  naturally  opened  the 
door  for  our  friendly  callers  who  had  so  thor- 
oughly frightened  us  for  a  moment.  Oh  power 
of  imagination,  how  manifold  are  thy  fantastic 
creations ! 

Carvalho  had  already  prepared  the  model  of 
the  scenery  and  the  costumes  for  Cendrillon, 
when  he  learned  that  Emma  Calve  was  in  Paris 
and  put  on  Sapho.  In  addition  to  the  admir- 



able  protagonist  of  La  Navarraise  in  London  and 
in  Paris,  our  interpreters  were  the  charming  ar- 
tiste Mile.  Julia  Guiraudon  (later  the  wife  of  my 
collaborator  Henri  Cain)  and  M.  Lepreste  who 
has  since  died. 

I  have  spoken  of  the  extreme  joy  I  experienced 
in  writing  Sapho,  an  opera  in  five  acts.  Henri 
Cain  and  dear  Arthur  Bernede  had  ably  con- 
trived the  libretto. 

Never  before  had  the  rehearsals  of  a  work 
seemed  more  enrapturing.  The  task  was  both 
easy  and  agreeable  with  such  excellent  artists. 

While  the  rehearsals  were  going  on  so  well,  my 
wife  and  I  went  to  dine  one  evening  at  Alphonse 
Daudet's.  He  was  very  fond  of  us.  The  first 
proofs  had  been  laid  on  the  piano.  I  can  still 
see  Daudet  seated  on  a  cushion  and  almost  brush- 
ing the  keyboard  with  his  handsome  head  so  de- 
lightfully framed  in  his  beautiful  thick  hair.  It 
seemed  to  me  that  he  was  deeply  moved.  The 
vagueness  of  his  short  sightedness  made  his  eyes 
still  more  admirable.  His  soul  with  all  its  pure, 
tender  poetry  spoke  through  them. 

It  would  be  difficult  to  experience  again  such 
moments  as  my  wife  and  I  knew  then. 

As  they  were  about  to  begin  the  first  rehearsals 


of  Sapho,  Danbe,  who  had  been  my  friend  since 
childhood,  told  the  musicians  in  the  orchestra 
what  an  emotional  work  they  were  to  play. 

Finally,  the  first  performance  came  on  Novem- 
ber 27,  1897. 

The  evening  must  have  been  very  fine,  for  the 
next  day  the  first  mail  brought  me  the  following 

My  dear  Massenet: 

I  am  happy  at  your  great  success.     With  Mas- 
senet and  Bizet,  non  omnis  moriar. 
Tenderly  yours, 


I  learned  that  my  beloved  friend  and  famous 
collaborator  had  been  present  at  the  first  per- 
formance, at  the  back  of  a  box,  although  he  had 
stopped  going  out  save  on  rare  occasions. 

His  appearance  at  the  performance  touched 
me  all  the  more. 

One  evening  I  decided  to  go  to  the  playhouse, 
in  the  wings,  and  I  was  shocked  at  Carvalho's  ap- 
pearance. He  was  always  so  alert  and  carried 
himself  so  well,  but  now  he  was  bent  and  his  eyes 
were  bloodshot  behind  his  blue  glasses.  Never- 
theless his  good  humor  and  gentleness  toward  me 
were  the  same  as  ever. 



His  condition  could  but  cause  me  anxiety. 

How  true  my  sad  presentiments  were ! 

My  poor  director  was  to  die  on  the  third  day. 

Almost  at  the  same  time  I  learned  that  Daudet, 
whose  life  had  been  so  admirably  rounded  out, 
had  heard  his  last  hour  strike  on  the  clock  of 
time.  Oh  mysterious,  implacable  Timepiece! 
I  felt  one  of  its  sharpest  strokes. 

Carvalho's  funeral  was  followed  by  a  consider- 
able crowd.  His  son  burst  into  sobs  behind  his 
funeral  car  and  could  scarcely  see.  Everything 
in  that  sad,  impressive  procession  was  painful 
and  heartrending. 

Daudet's  obsequies  were  celebrated  with  great 
pomp  at  Sainte  Clotilde.  La  Solitude  from 
Sapho  (the  entr'acte  from  the  fifth  act)  was 
played  during  the  service  after  the  chanting  of 
the  Dies  Irae. 

I  was  obliged  to  make  my  way  almost  by  main 
force  through  the  great  crowd  to  get  into  the 
church.  It  was  like  a  hungry,  eager  reflection 
of  that  long  line  of  admirers  and  friends  he  had 
during  his  lifetime. 

As  I  sprinkled  holy  water  on  the  casket,  I  re- 
called my  last  visit  to  the  Rue  de  Bellechasse 
where  Daudet  lived.  I  had  gone  to  give  him 



news  of  the  theater  and  carried  him  sprays  of 
eucalyptus,  one  of  the  trees  of  the  South  he 
adored.  I  knew  what  intense  pleasure  that 
would  give  him. 

Meanwhile  Sapho  went  on  its  way.  I  went  to 
Saint  Raphael,  the  country  where  Carvalho  had 
liked  to  live. 

I  relied  on  an  apartment  which  I  had  engaged 
in  advance,  but  the  landlord  told  me  that  he  had 
let  it  to  two  ladies  who  seemed  very  busy.  I 
started  to  hunt  another  lodging  when  I  was  called 
back.  I  learned  that  the  two  who  had  taken  my 
rooms  were  Emma  Calve  and  one  of  her  friends. 
The  two  ladies  doubtless  heard  my  name  men- 
tioned and  changed  their  itinerary.  However, 
their  presence  in  that  place  so  far  from  Paris 
showed  me  that  our  Sapho  had  necessarily  sus- 
pended her  run  of  performances. 

What  whims  will  not  one  pardon  in  such  an 

I  learned  that  in  two  days  everything  was  in 
order  again  at  the  theater  in  Paris.  Would  that 
I  had  been  there  to  embrace  our  adorable  fugi- 

Two  weeks  later  I  learned  from  the  papers  in 


Nice  that  Albert  Carre  had  been  made  manager  of 
the  Opera-Comique.  Until  then  the  house  had 
been  temporarily  under  the  direction  of  the 

Who  would  have  thought  that  it  would  have 
been  our  new  manager  who  would  revive  Sapho 
considerably  later  with  that  beautiful  artiste  who 
became  his  wife.  But  it  was  she  who  incarnated 
the  Sapho  of  Daudet  with  an  unusually  appealing 

Salignac,  the  tenor,  had  a  considerable  success 
in  the  role  of  Jean  Gaussin. 

At  the  revival  Carre  asked  me  to  interweave  a 
new  act,  the  act  of  the  Letters,  and  I  carried  out 
the  idea  with  enthusiasm. 

Sapho  was  also  sung  by  that  unusual  artiste 
Mme.  Georgette  Leblanc,  later  the  wife  of  that 
great  man  of  letters  Maeterlinck. 

Mme.  Brejean-Silver  also  made  this  role  an 
astonishingly  lifelike  figure. 

How  many  other  artists  have  sung  this  work! 

The  first  opera  put  on  under  the  new  manage- 
ment was  Reynaldo  Hahn's  Ulle  de  Reve.  He 
dedicated  that  exquisite  score  to  me.  That  mu- 
sic is  pervading  for  it  was  written  by  a  real  mas- 



ter.  What  a  gift  he  has  of  wrapping  us  in  warm 
caresses ! 

That  was  not  the  case  with  the  music  of  some 
of  our  confreres.  Reyer  found  it  unbearable 
and  made  this  image-raising  remark  about  it: 

"I  just  met  Gretry's  statue  on  the  stairs;  he 
had  enough  and  fled." 

That  brings  to  mind  another  equally  witty 
sally  which  du  Locle  made  to  Reyer  the  day  after 
Berlioz's  death, 

"Well,  my  dear  fellow,  Berlioz  has  got  ahead 
of  you." 

Du  Locle  could  permit  himself  this  inoffensive 
joke  for  he  was  Reyer's  oldest  friend. 

I  find  this  word  from  the  author  of  Louise 
whom  I  knew  as  a  child  in  my  classes  at  the  Con- 
servatoire and  who  always  felt  a  family  affection 

Midnight,  New  Year's  Eve. 
Dear  Master: 

Faithful  remembrance  from  your  affectionate 
on  the  last  day  which  ends  with  Sapho  and  the 
first  hour  of  the  year  which  will  close  with  Cen- 



Cendrillon  did  not  appear  until  May  24, 1899. 
These  works  presented  one  after  another,  at  more 
than  a  year's  interval  however,  brought  me  the 
following  note  from  Gounod: 

"A  thousand  congratulations,  my  dear  friend, 
on  your  latest  fine  success.  The  devil!  Well, 
you  go  at  such  a  pace  one  can  scarcely  keep  up 
with  you." 

As  I  have  said,  the  score  of  Cendrillon,  written 
on  a  pearl  from  that  casket  of  jewels  "Les  Contes 
de  Perrault,"  had  been  finished  a  long  time.  It 
had  yielded  its  turn  to  Sapho  at  the  Opera-Com- 
ique.  Our  new  director  Albert  Carre  told  me 
that  he  intended  to  give  Cendrillon  at  the  first 
possible  chance,  but  that  was  six  months  away. 

I  was  staying  at  Aix-les-Bains  in  remembrance 
of  my  father  who  had  lived  there,  and  I  was  deep 
in  work  on  La  Terre  Promise.  The  Bible  fur- 
nished a  text  and  I  got  out  an  oratorio  of  three 
acts.  As  I  said,  I  was  deep  in  the  work  when  my 
wife  and  I  were  overcome  by  the  terrible  news  of 
the  fire  at  the  Charity  Bazaar.  My  dear  daugh- 
ter was  a  salesgirl. 

We  had  to  wait  until  evening  before  a  tele- 
gram arrived  and  ended  our  intense  alarm. 

^  curious  coincidence  which  I  did  not  learn 


until  long  afterwards  was  that  the  heroine  (Lucy 
Arbell)  of  Persephone  and  Therese,  as  well  as 
the  beautiful  Dulcinee  (in  Don  Quichotte)  was 
also  among  the  salesgirls.  She  was  only  twelve 
or  thirteen  at  the  time,  but  in  the  midst  of  the 
general  panic  she  found  an  exit  behind  the  Hotel 
du  Palais  and  succeeded  in  saving  her  mother  and 
several  others.  This  showed  rare  decision  and 
courage  for  a  child. 

Since  I  have  spoken  of  La  Terre  Promise,  I 
may  add  that  I  had  an  entirely  unexpected  "hear- 
ing." Eugene  d'Harcourt,  who  was  so  well 
thought  of  as  a  musician  and  a  critic,  the  greatly 
applauded  composer  of  Tasse  which  was  put  on 
at  Monte  Carlo,  proposed  to  me  that  he  direct  a 
performance  at  the  church  of  Sainte  Eustache 
with  an  immense  orchestra  and  chorus. 

The  second  part  was  devoted  to  the  taking  of 
Jericho.  A  march — seven  times  interrupted  by 
the  resounding  outbursts  from  seven  great  trum- 
pets— ended  with  the  collapse  of  the  walls  of  that 
famous  city  which  the  Jews  had  to  take  and  de- 
stroy. The  resounding  clamor  of  all  the  voices 
together  was  joined  to  the  formidable  thunder 
of  the  great  organ  of  Saint  Eustache. 

With  my  wife  I  attended  the  final  rehearsal 


in  a  large  pulpit  to  which  the  venerable  cure  had 
done  us  the  honor  of  inviting  us. 

That  was  the  fifteenth  of  March,  1900. 

I  return  to  Cendrillon.  Albert  Carre  put  on 
this  opera  with  a  stage  setting  which  was  as  novel 
as  it  was  marvellous. 

Julia  Guiraudon  was  exquisite  in  the  role  of 
Cendrillon.  Mme.  Deschamps  Jehin  was  aston- 
ishing as  a  singer  and  as  a  comedienne,  pretty 
Mile.  Emelen  was  our  Prince  Charming  and  the 
great  Fugere  showed  himself  an  indescribable  ar- 
tist in  the  role  of  Pandolphe.  He  sent  me  the 
news  of  "victory"  which  I  received  the  next 
morning  at  Enghien-les-Bains,  which  with  my 
wife  I  had  chosen  as  a  refuge  near  Paris  from  the 
dress  rehearsal  and  the  first  performance. 

More  than  sixty  continuous  performances,  in- 
cluding matinees,  followed  the  Premiere.  The 
Isola  brothers,  managers  of  the  Gaite,  later  gave  a 
large  number  of  performances,  and  a  curious 
thing  for  so  Parisian  a  work  was  that  Italy  gave 
Cendrillon  a  fine  reception.  This  lyric  work  was 
given  at  Rome  thirty  times — a  rare  number. 
The  following  cablegram  came  to  me  from  Amer- 



Cendrillon  hier,  success  menal. 
The  last  word  was  too  long  and  the  sending 
office  had  cut  it  in  two. 

It  was  now  1900,  the  memorable  time  of  the 
Great  Exposition. 

I  had  scarcely  recovered  from  the  fine  emotion 
of  La  Terre  Promise  at  Saint  Eustache  than  I  fell 
seriously  ill.  They  were  then  going  on  with  the 
rehearsals  of  Le  Cid  at  the  Opera  which  they  in- 
tended to  revive.  The  hundredth  performance 
was  reached  in  October  of  the  same  year. 

All  Paris  was  en  fete.  The  capital,  one  of  the 
most  frequented  places  in  the  world,  became  even 
more  and  better  than  that:  it  was  the  world  itself, 
for  all  people  met  there.  All  nations  jostled  one 
another;  all  tongues  were  heard  and  all  costumes 
were  set  off  against  each  other. 

Though  the  Exposition  sent  its  million  of  joy- 
ful notes  skyward  and  could  not  fail  to  obtain  a 
place  of  honor  in  history,  at  nightfall  the  im- 
mense crowd  sought  rest  from  the  emotions  of  the 
day  by  swarming  to  the  theaters  which  were 
everywhere  open,  and  it  invaded  the  magnificent 
palace  which  our  dear  great  Charles  Gamier  had 



raised  for  the  manifestations  of  Lyric  Art  and  the 
religion  of  the  Dance. 

Gailhard  had  come  to  call  on  me  in  May  when 
I  was  so  ill  and  had  made  me  promise  to  be  pres- 
ent in  his  box  at  the  hundredth  performance 
which  he  more  than  hoped  to  give  and  which  as  a 
matter  of  fact  took  place  in  October.  That  day 
I  yielded  to  his  invitation. 

Mile.  Lucienne  Breval  and  Mm.  Saleza  and 
Frederic  Delmas  were  applauded  with  delirious 
enthusiasm  on  the  night  of  the  hundredth  per- 
formance. At  the  recall  at  the  end  of  the  third 
act,  Gailhard,  in  spite  of  my  resistance,  pushed 
me  to  the  front  of  his  box.  .  .  . 

It  is  easy  to  imagine  what  happened  on  the 
stage,  in  the  Opera's  superb  orchestra,  and  in  the 
audience  packed  to  the  roof. 




I  became  very  ill  at  Paris.  I  felt  that  the 
path  from  life  to  death  was  so  easy,  the  way 
seemed  so  gentle,  so  restful,  that  I  was  sorry  to 
find  myself  back  in  the  harsh,  cutting  troubles 
of  life. 

I  had  escaped  the  sharp  cold  of  winter;  it  was 
now  spring,  and  I  went  to  my  old  home  at  £gre- 
ville  to  find  nature,  the  great  consoler,  in  her  soli- 
tude and  peace. 

I  brought  with  me  a  voluminous  correspond- 
ence, letters,  pamphlets  and  rolls  of  manuscript 
which  I  had  never  opened.  I  intended  doing  so 
on  the  way  as  a  distraction  from  the  boredom  of 
the  journey.  I  had  opened  several  letters  and 
was  about  to  unroll  a  manuscript,  "Oh,  no,"  I 
said,  "that's  enough."  As  a  matter  of  fact  I 
had  happened  on  a  work  for  the  stage. 

Must  the  stage  follow  me  everywhere,  I 
thought.  I  longed  to  have  nothing  more  to  do 
with  it.  So  I  put  the  importunate  thing  aside. 
Yet  as  I  journeyed  along,  to  kill  time,  as  they  say, 



y~\v  v-v 

/"     PN^ 



I  took  it  up  again  and  settled  myself  to  run 
through  that  famous  manuscript  notwithstanding 
whatever  desire  I  may  have  had  to  the  contrary. 

My  attention  was  at  first  superficial  and  inat- 
tentive, but  gradually  it  became  fixed.  Insen- 
sibly I  began  to  read  with  interest;  so  much  so 
that  I  ended  by  feeling  real  surprise — I  must  con- 
fess that  it  even  became  stupefaction. 

"What,"  I  exclaimed,  "a  play  without  a  part 
for  a  woman  except  for  the  speechless  apparition 
of  the  Virgin!" 

If  I  was  surprised  and  stupefied,  what  would  be 
the  feelings  of  those  who  were  used  to  seeing  me 
put  on  the  stage  Manon,  Sapho,  Thai's  and  other 
lovable  ladies.  That  was  true,  but  in  that  they 
would  forget  that  the  most  sublime  of  women, 
the  Virgin,  was  bound  to  sustain  me  in  my  work, 
even  as  she  showed  herself  charitable  to  the  re- 
pentant Juggler. 

I  had  scarcely  run  through  the  first  scenes, 
when  I  felt  that  I  was  face  to  face  with  the  work 
of  a  true  poet  who  was  familiar  with  the  archaism 
of  the  literature  of  the  Middle  Ages.  The  manu- 
script bore  no  author's  name. 

I  wrote  to  my  concierge  to  find  out  the  origin 
of  this  mysterious  package,  and  he  told  me  that 



the  author  had  left  his  name  and  address  with 
explicit  instructions  not  to  divulge  them  to  me 
unless  and  until  I  had  agreed  to  write  the  music 
for  the  work. 

The  title  Le  Jongleur  de  Notre  Dame  followed 
by  the  sub-title  "Miracle  in  Three  Acts"  en- 
chanted me. 

The  character  of  my  home,  a  relic  of  the  same 
Middle  Ages,  the  surroundings  in  which  I  found 
myself  at  figreville,  were  exactly  suited  to  give 
me  the  desired  atmosphere  for  my  work. 

The  score  was  finished  and  the  time  came  to 
communicate  with  my  unknown. 

At  last  I  learned  his  name  and  address  and 
wrote  to  him. 

There  is  no  doubt  about  the  joy  with  which  I 
did  so,  for  the  author  was  none  other  than  Maur- 
ice Lena,  the  devoted  friend  I  had  known  at  Lyons 
where  he  held  the  chair  of  Philosophy. 

My  dear  Lena  then  came  to  figreville  on 
August  14, 1900.  We  hurried  to  my  place  from 
the  little  station.  We  found  in  my  room  spread 
out  on  the  large  table  (I  flatter  myself  it  was  a 
famous  table  for  it  had  belonged  to  the  illustrious 
Diderot)  the  engraved  piano  and  vocal  score  for 
Le  Jongleur  de  Notre  Dame. 



Lena  was  dumfounded  at  sight  of  it.  He  was 
choked  by  the  most  delightful  of  emotions. 

Both  of  us  had  been  happy  in  the  work.  Now 
the  unknown  faced  us.  Where  and  in  what  thea- 
ter were  we  to  be  played? 

It  was  a  radiant  day.  Nature  with  her  intox- 
icating odors,  the  fair  season  of  the  fields,  the 
flowers  in  the  meadows,  the  agreeable  union 
which  had  grown  up  between  us  in  producing  the 
work,  everything  in  fact  spoke  of  happiness. 
Such  fleeting  happiness,  as  the  poetess  Mme. 
Daniel  Lesaeur  has  told  us,  is  worth  all  eternity. 

The  fields  recalled  to  us  that  we  were  on  the 
eve  of  the  fifteenth  of  August,  the  Feast  of  the 
Virgin,  whom  we  had  sung  in  our  work. 

As  I  never  had  a  piano  at  home,  especially  at 
figreville,  I  was  unable  to  satisfy  my  dear  Lena's 
curiosity  and  let  him  hear  the  music  of  this  or 
that  scene. 

We  were  strolling  together  near  the  hour  of 
vespers  towards  the  old,  venerable  church,  and 
we  could  hear  from  a  distance  the  chords  of  its 
little  harmonium.  A  mad  idea  struck  me. 
"Hey!  What  if  I  should  suggest  to  you,"  I  said 
to  my  friend,  "what  if  I  propose  to  you  something 
which  would  be  impossible  in  that  sacred  place 



in  any  other  way,  but  certainly  very  tempting! 
Suppose  we  go  into  the  church  as  soon  as  it  is 
deserted  and  returned  to  holy  obscurity.  What 
if  I  should  let  you  hear  fragments  of  our  Le  Jon- 
gleur de  Notre  Dame?  Wouldn't  it  be  a  divine 
moment  which  would  leave  its  impression  on  us 
forever?"  And  we  continued  our  stroll,  the 
complacent  shade  of  the  great  trees  protecting 
the  paths  and  roads  from  the  sting  of  a  too  ardent 

On  the  morrow — sad  morrow — we  parted. 

The  following  autumn,  the  winter,  and  finally 
the  spring  of  the  succeeding  year  passed  without 
any  one  coming  to  me  from  anywhere  with  an 
offer  to  produce  the  work. 

When  I  least  thought  of  it,  I  had  a  visit  as 
unexpected  as  it  was  flattering  from  M.  Raoul 

I  delight  in  recalling  here  the  great  worth  of 
that  close  friend,  his  individuality  as  a  manager, 
and  his  talent  as  a  musician,  whose  works  tri- 
umph on  the  stage. 

Raoul  Gunsbourg  brought  me  the  news  that  on 
his  advice  H.  S.  H.  the  Prince  of  Monaco  had  des- 
ignated me  for  a  work  to  be  put  on  the  stage  of 
the  theater  at  Monte  Carlo. 



Le  Jongleur  de  Notre  Dame  was  ready  and  I 
offered  it.  It  was  arranged  that  his  Serene  High- 
ness should  deign  to  come  to  Paris  and  hear  the 
work  in  person.  That  hearing  occurred,  as  a 
matter  of  fact,  in  the  beautiful,  artistic  home 
of  my  publisher  Henri  Heugel.  The  Prince  was 
entirely  satisfied ;  he  did  me  the  honor  to  express 
several  times  his  sincere  pleasure.  The  work 
was  put  in  study  and  the  later  rehearsals  were  in 
Paris  under  Raoul  Gunsbourg's  direction. 

In  January,  1902,  my  wife  and  I  left  Paris  for 
the  Palace  of  Monaco,  where  his  Serene  High- 
ness had  most  cordially  invited  us  to  be  his 
guests.  What  a  contrast  it  was  to  the  life  we 
had  left  behind! 

One  evening  we  left  Paris  buried  in  glacial 
cold  beneath  the  snow,  and,  behold,  some  hours 
later  we  found  ourselves  in  an  entirely  different 
atmosphere.  It  was  the  South,  La  Belle  Prov- 
ence, the  Azure  Coast.  It  was  ideal!  For  me 
it  was  the  East  almost  at  the  gates  of  Paris ! 

The  dream  began.  It  is  hardly  necessary  for 
me  to  tell  of  all  the  marvelous  days  which  went 
like  a  dream  in  that  Dantesque  Paradise,  amid 
that  splendid  scenery,  in  that  luxurious,  sumptu- 



ous  palace,  all  balmy  with  the  vegetation  of  the 

The  first  performance  of  Le  Jongleur  de  Notre 
Dame  was  given  at  the  Monte  Carlo  Opera  on 
Tuesday,  February  18,  1902.  The  superb  pro- 
tagonists were  Mm.  Renaud,  of  the  Opera,  and 
Marechal,  of  the  Opera-Comique. 

A  detail  which  shows  the  favor  with  which  the 
work  was  received  is  that  it  was  given  four  times 
in  succession  during  the  same  season. 

Two  years  later  my  dear  director  Albert  Carre 
gave  the  first  performance  of  Le  Jongleur  de  No- 
tre Dame  at  the  Opera-Comique  with  this  ideal 
cast:  Lucien  Fugere,  Marechal,  the  creator  of  the 
part,  and  Allard. 

The  work  long  ago  passed  its  hundredth  per- 
formance at  Paris,  and  as  I  write  these  lines  Le 
Jongleur  de  Notre  Dame  has  had  a  place  in  the 
repertoire  of  the  American  houses  for  several 

It  is  interesting  to  note  that  the  Juggler  wa 
created  at  the  Metropolitan  Opera  House  by 
Mary  Garden,  the  dazzling  artist  who  is  admired 
as  much  in  Paris  as  in  the  United  States. 

My  feelings  are  somewhat  bewildered,  I  con- 


fess,  at  seeing  the  monk  discard  his  frock  after 
the  performance  and  resume  an  elegant  costume 
from  the  Rue  de  la  Paix.  However,  in  the  face 
of  the  artist's  triumph  I  bow  and  applaud.1 

As  I  have  said,  this  work  had  to  wait  its  turn, 
and  as  Carvalho  had  previously  engaged  me  to 
write  the  music  for  Griseldis,  a  work  by  Eugene 
Morand  and  Armand  Silvestre,  which  was  much 
applauded  at  the  Theatre-Frangais.  I  wrote  the 
score  at  intervals  between  my  journeys  to  the 
South  and  to  Cap  d'Antibes.  Ah,  that  hotel  on 
the  Cap  d'Antibes !  That  was  an  unusual  stay. 
It  was  an  old  property  built  by  Villemessant,  who 
had  christened  it  correctly  and  happily  "Villa 
Soliel,"  and  which  he  planned  for  journalists 
overtaken  by  poverty  and  old  age. 

Imagine,  if  you  can,  a  large  villa  with  white 

1  The  transposition  of  the  tenor  part  to  the  soprano 
register  seems  an  intolerable  musical  solecism,  and  a 
woman  playing  a  serious  and  inevitably  male  character 
grotesquely  absurd.  The  terms  in  which  Massenet  here 
expresses  his  objections  to  this  indefensible  procedure  are 
gentle  and  but  mildly  ironical  compared  with  those  he 
used  to  the  translator.  Massenet  was  simply  furious. 
With  flaming  eyes — and  how  his  wonderful  eyes  could 
flame! — and  voice  vehement  with  indignation  and  unutter- 
able scorn,  he  said  to  me,  "When  I  wrote  that  work  I  little 
thought  the  monk's  habit  would  ever  be  disguised  in  a  petti- 

>at  from  the  Rue  de  la  Paix." 



walls  all  purple  from  the  fires  of  the  bright  sun 
of  the  South  and  surrounded  by  a  grove  of  euca- 
lyptus trees,  myrtles  and  laurels.  It  was  reached 
by  shady  paths,  suffused  with  the  most  fragrant 
perfumes,  and  faced  the  sea — that  sea  which  rolls 
its  clear  waters  from  the  Azure  Coast  and  the 
Riviera  along  the  indented  shores  of  Italy  as  far 
as  ancient  Hellas,  as  if  to  carry  thither  on  its 
azured  waves  which  bathe  Provence  the  far  off 
salutation  of  the  Phocean  city. 

How  pleased  I  was  with  my  sun-flooded  room, 
where  I  worked  in  peace  and  quiet  and  in  the  en- 
joyment of  perfect  health ! 

As  I  have  spoken  of  Griseldis.,  I  will  add  that 
as  I  had  two  works  free,  that  and  Le  Jongleur  de 
Notre  Dame.,  my  publisher  offered  Albert  Carre 
his  choice  and  he  took  Griseldis.  That  is  why, 
as  I  have  said,  Le  Jongleur  de  Notre  Dame  was 
put  on  at  Monte  Carlo  in  1902. 

So  Griseldis  got  the  first  start  and  was  given  at 
the  Opera-Comique  November  20,  1901. 

Mile.  Lucienne  Breval  made  a  superb  creation 
of  it.  The  baritone,  Dufranne,  made  his  first 
appearance  in  the  role  of  the  marquis,  Griseldis's 
husband,  and  made  a  brilliant  success  from  the 
moment  he  came  on  the  stage;  Fugere  was  ex- 



traordinary  in  the  role  of  the  Devil,  and  Marechal 
was  a  tender  lover  in  the  part  of  Alain. 

I  was  very  fond  of  this  piece.  Everything 
about  it  pleased  me. 

It  brought  together  so  many  touching  senti- 
ments: the  proud  chivalric  appearance  of  the 
great,  powerful  seigneur  going  on  the  Crusades, 
the  fantastic  appearance  of  the  Green  Devil  who 
might  be  said  to  have  come  from  a  window  of 
a  medieval  cathedral,  the  simplicity  of  young 
Alain,  and  the  delightful  little  figure  of  the  child 
of  Griseldis!  For  that  part  we  had  a  tiny  girl 
of  three  who  was  the  very  spirit  of  the  theater. 
As  in  the  second  act  the  child  on  Griseldis's  knees 
should  give  the  illusion  of  falling  asleep,  the  little 
artiste  discovered  all  by  herself  the  proper  ges- 
ture which  would  be  understood  by  the  distant 
audience;  she  let  her  arms  fall  as  if  overcome 
with  weariness.  Delightful  little  mummer! 

Albert  Carre  had  found  an  archaic  and  his- 
toric oratory  which  was  artistically  perfect,  and 
when  the  curtain  rose  on  Griseldis's  garden,  it 
was  a  delight.  What  a  contrast  between  the 
lilies  blooming  in  the  foreground  and  the  dismal 
castle  on  the  horizon ! 



And  the  scene  of  the  prologue  with  its  living 
background  was  a  fortunate  discovery. 

What  joys  I  promised  myself  in  being  able  to 
work  at  the  theater  with  my  old  friend  Armand 
Silvestre.  A  year  before  he  had  written  me, 
"Are  you  going  to  let  me  die  without  seeing  Gris- 
eldis  at  the  Opera-Comique?"  Alas,  that  was 
the  case,  and  my  dear  collaborator,  Eugene 
Morland,  helped  with  his  poetical  and  artistic 

As  I  was  working  on  Griseldis,  a  scholar  who 
was  entirely  wrapped  up  in  the  literature  of  the 
Middle  Ages  and  was  interested  in  a  subject  on 
that  period,  entrusted  me  with  a  work  which  he 
had  written  on  that  time,  a  very  labored  work  of 
which  I  was  not  able  to  make  much  use. 

I  had  shown  it  to  Gerome,  whose  mind  was 
curious  about  everything,  and  as  Gerome,  the 
author  and  I  were  together,  our  great  painter 
whose  remarks  were  always  so  apropos,  ready 
and  amusing  said  to  the  author  who  was  waiting 
for  his  opinion,  "How  pleasantly  I  fell  asleep 
reading  your  book  yesterday." 

And  the  author  bowed  entirely  satisfied. 




I  happened  to  see  played  at  the  Theatre-Fran- 
§ais  three  entirely  novel  acts  which  interested  me 
very  much.  It  was  Le  Cherubin  by  Francis  de 
Croisset.  Two  days  later  I  was  at  the  author's 
house  and  asked  him  for  the  work.  His  talent, 
which  was  so  marked  then,  has  never  ceased 
highly  to  confirm  itself. 

I  remember  that  it  was  a  rainy  day,  as  we  were 
coming  back  by  the  Champs  filysees  from  the 
glorious  ceremony  at  the  unveiling  of  the  statue 
of  Alphonse  Daudet,  that  we  settled  the  terms  of 
our  agreement. 

Title,  subject,  action,  everything  in  that  de- 
lightful Cherubin  charmed  me.  I  wrote  the  mu- 
sic at  figreville. 

His  Serene  Highness  the  Prince  of  Monaco 
heard  that  Le  Cherubin  was  set  to  music,  and  he 
remembered  Le  Jongleur  de  Notre  Dame  which 
he  had  welcomed  so  splendidly  and  which  I  had 
respectfully  dedicated  to  him.  He  had  M.  Raoul 



Gunsbourg  propose  to  me  that  the  first  perform- 
ance be  given  at  Monte  Carlo.  It  is  not  difficult 
to  imagine  with  what  enthusiasm  I  accepted  this 
offer.  Mme.  Massenet  and  I  went  again  to  that 
ideal  country  in  that  fairy-like  palace  of  which 
we  have  retained  such  imperishable  memories. 

Le  Cherubin  was  created  by  Mary  Garden,  the 
tender  Nina  by  Marguerite  Carre,  the  bewitching 
Ensoleillad  by  Cavalieri,  and  the  part  of  the 
philosopher  was  filled  by  Maurice  Renaud. 

It  was  a  really  delightful  interpretation.  The 
evening  was  much  drawn  out  by  the  applause  and 
the  constant  encores  which  the  audience  de- 
manded of  the  artists.  It  literally  held  them  in 
an  atmosphere  of  the  wildest  enthusiasm. 

Our  stay  at  the  palace  was  one  continual  series 
of  inexpressible  delights  which  we  were  to  ex- 
perience again  as  the  guests  of  that  high-souled 
prince  of  science. 

Henri  Cain,  who  had  been  my  collaborator 
with  Francis  de  Croisset  in  Le  Cherubin,  amused 
me  between  times  by  making  me  write  the  music 
for  a  pretty,  picturesque  ballet  in  one  act,  Cigale. 
The  Opera-Comique  gave  it  February  4,  1904. 
The  bewitching,  talented  Mile.  Chasle  was  our 
Cigale,  and  Messmaecker,  of  the  Opera-Comique, 



clowned  the  role  of  Mme.  Fourmi,  Rentiere,  in 
a  mirth  provoking  manner ! 

I  was  by  far  the  most  entertained  of  those 
who  attended  the  rehearsals  of  Cigale.  At  the 
end  was  a  scene  which  was  very  touching  and 
exquisitely  poetical,  where  an  angel  with  a  divine 
voice  appears  and  sings  in  the  distance.  The 
angel's  voice  was  Mile.  Guiraudon  who  became 
Mme.  Henri  Cain. 

A  year  later,  as  I  have  said,  on  February  14, 
1905,  Le  Cherubin  was  sung  at  Monte  Carlo  and 
on  the  twenty-third  of  the  following  May  the 
Opera-Comique  in  Paris  closed  its  season  with 
the  same  piece.  The  only  changes  at  the  latter 
were  that  Lucien  Fugere  took  the  role  of  the 
philosopher  and  added  a  new  success  to  the  many 
that  artist  had  already  achieved  and  that  the  role 
of  Ensoleillad  was  given  to  the  charming  Mile. 

You  will  perhaps  observe  that  I  have  said  noth- 
ing about  Ariane.  The  reason  for  this  is  that  I 
never  talk  about  a  work  until  it  is  finished  and 
engraved.  I  have  said  nothing  about  Ariane  or 
about  Roma,  the  first  scenes  of  which  I  wrote  in 


Persephone  in   Ariane 


1902,  enraptured  by  the  sublime  tragedy,  Rome 
Vaincue  by  Alexandre  Parodi.  As  I  write  these 
words  the  five  acts  of  Roma  are  in  rehearsal  at 
Monte  Carlo  and  the  Opera,  but  I  have  already 
said  too  much. 

So  I  resume  the  current  of  my  life. 

Ariane!  Arianel  The  work  which  made  me 
live  in  such  lofty  spheres!  How  could  it  have 
been  otherwise  with  the  superb,  inspired  collabo- 
ration of  Catulle  Mendes,  the  poet  of  ethereal 
hopes  and  dreams! 

It  was  a  memorable  day  in  my  life  when  my 
friend  Heugel  told  me  that  Catulle  Mendes  was 
ready  to  read  the  text  of  Ariane  to  me. 

For  a  long  time  I  had  wanted  to  weep  the  tears 
of  Ariane.  I  was  thrilled  with  all  the  strength 
of  mind  and  heart  before  I  even  knew  the  first 
word  of  the  first  scene. 

We  engaged  to  meet  for  this  reading  at  Catulle 
Mendes's  house,  in  the  artistic  lodging  of  that 
great  scholar  and  his  exquisite  wife  who  was  also 
a  most  talented  and  real  poet. 

I  came  away  actually  feverish  with  excitement. 
The  libretto  was  in  my  pocket,  against  my  heart, 
as  if  to  make  it  feel  the  throbs,  as  I  got  into  a 



victoria  to  go  home.  Rain  fell  in  torrents  but 
I  did  not  notice  it.  Surely  Ariane's  tears  per- 
meated my  whole  being  with  delight. 

Dear,  good  tears,  with  what  gladness  you  must 
have  fallen  during  the  rehearsals!  I  was  over- 
whelmed with  esteem  and  attention  by  my  dear 
director,  Gailhard,  as  well  as  by  my  remarkable 

In  August,  1905, 1  was  walking  pensively  un- 
der the  pergola  of  our  house  at  figreville,  when 
suddenly  an  automobile  horn  woke  the  echoes  of 
that  peaceful  country. 

Was  not  Jupiter  thundering  in  the  heavens, 
Caelo  tonantem  Jovem,  as  Horace  says  in  the 
Odes.  For  a  moment  I  could  believe  that  such 
was  the  case,  but  what  was  my  surprise — my  very 
agreeable  surprise — when  I  saw  get  down  from 
that  thundering  sixty  miles  an  hour  two  travel- 
ers, who,  if  they  did  not  come  from  heaven, 
nevertheless  let  me  hear  the  accents  of  Paradise 
in  their  friendly  voices. 

One  was  Gailhard,  the  director  of  the  Opera, 
and  the  other  the  learned  architect  of  the  Gamier 
monument.  My  director  had  come  to  ask  me 
how  I  was  getting  on  with  Ariane  and  if  I  were 
willing  to  let  the  Opera  have  it. 



We  went  up  to  my  large  room  which  with  its 
yellow  hangings  of  the  period  might  have  easily 
been  taken  for  that  of  a  general  of  the  First  Em- 
pire. I  at  once  pointed  out  a  heap  of  pages  on  a 
large  black  marble  table — the  whole  of  the  fin- 
ished score. 

At  lunch,  between  the  sardines  of  the  hors 
d'oeuvre  and  the  cheese  of  the  dessert,  I  de- 
claimed several  situations  in  the  work.  Then 
my  guests,  put  in  a  charming  humor,  were  good 
enough  to  accept  my  invitation  to  make  a  tour  of 
the  property. 

It  was  while  we  paced  under  the  pergola  of 
which  I  have  spoken,  in  the  delightfully  fresh, 
thick  shade  of  the  vines  whose  leaves  formed  a 
verdant  network  that  we  settled  on  the  cast. 

Lucienne  Breval  was  to  have  the  role  of  Ari- 
ane;  Louise  Grandjean  that  of  the  dramatic 
Phedre,  and  by  common  consent,  in  view  of  her 
talent  for  tragedy  and  her  established  success  at 
the  Opera,  we  decided  on  Lucy  Arbell  for  the  role 
of  the  somber,  beautiful  Queen  of  Hell. 

Muratore  and  Delmas  were  plainly  indicated 
for  Thesee  and  Pirithoiis. 

As  he  was  going  away,  Gailhard,  remembering 
the  simple,  confiding  formula  by  which  our 



fathers  made  contracts  in  the  good  old  days, 
plucked  a  branch  from  a  eucalyptus  in  the  gar- 
den and  said,  waving  it  at  me: 

"This  is  the  token  of  the  promises  we  have 
exchanged  to-day.  I  carry  it  with  me." 

Then  my  guests  got  into  their  auto  and  dis- 
appeared in  the  whirling  dust  of  the  road.  Did 
they  carry  away  to  the  great  city  the  near  realiza- 
tion of  my  dearest  hopes,  was  what  I  asked  myself 
as  I  climbed  to  my  room.  I  was  tired  and  worn 
out  by  the  emotions  of  the  day  and  I  went  to  bed. 
The  sun  still  shone  on  the  horizon  in  all  the 
glory  of  its  fire.  It  crimsoned  my  bed  with  its 
dazzling  rays.  I  dreamt  as  I  slept  the  most  beau- 
tiful dream  that  can  delude  us  when  a  task  has 
been  fulfilled. 

I  now  record  a  detail  which  is  of  some  im- 

My  little  Marie  Magdeleine  came  to  figreville 
to  spend  a  few  days  with  her  grandparents.  I 
yielded  to  her  curiosity  and  told  her  the  story  of 
the  piece.  I  had  reached  the  place  where  Ariane 
is  drawn  into  Hell  to  find  the  wandering  soul  of 
her  sister  Phedre,  and  as  I  stopped,  my  grand- 
child exclaimed  at  once : 



"And  now  grandpapa  we  are  going  to  be  in 

The  silvery  wheedling  voice  of  the  dear  child, 
her  sudden,  natural  question  produced  a  strange, 
almost  magical,  effect  on  me.  I  had  had  the  in- 
tention of  asking  them  to  suppress  that  act,  but 
now  I  suddenly  decided  to  keep  it,  and  I  answered 
the  child's  fair  question,  "Yes,  we  are  going  into 
Hell."  And  I  added,  "We  shall  see  there  the 
affecting  figure  of  Persephone  finding  again  with 
delight  the  roses,  the  divine  roses  which  remind 
her  of  the  beloved  earth  where  she  lived  of  old, 
ere  she  became  the  Queen  of  that  terrible  place 
with  a  black  lily  in  her  hand  for  a  scepter." 

That  visit  to  Avernus  necessitates  a  stage  set- 
ting and  an  interpretation  which  I  will  deliber- 
ately designate  as  intensive.  I  had  to  go  to 
Turin  (my  last  journey  to  that  beautiful  country) 
in  pretty  cold  weather,  December  14,  1907,  ac- 
companied by  my  dear  Henri  Heugel  to  be  pres- 
ent at  the  last  rehearsals  at  the  Regio,  the  royal 
theater,  where  they  were  putting  on  Ariane  for 
the  first  time  in  Italy.  The  work  had  a  luxuri- 
ous stage  setting  and  remarkable  interpreters. 
The  great  artiste  Maria  Farneti  had  the  role  of 
Ariane.  I  noticed  particularly  the  special  care 



with  which  Serafin,  the  eminent  conductor  who 
was  acting  as  stage  manager,  staged  the  act  in 
Hell.  Our  Persephone  was  as  tragic  as  one  pos- 
sibly could  be;  the  aria  of  the  Roses,  however, 
seemed  to  me  to  be  lacking  in  emotion.  I  re- 
member that  I  told  her  at  the  rehearsal,  throwing 
an  armful  of  roses  into  her  wide  open  arms,  to 
press  them  to  her  heart  ardently,  as  she  would 
do,  I  added,  with  a  husband  or  a  beloved  sweet- 
heart whom  she  had  not  seen  for  twenty  years! 
"From  the  roses  which  disappeared  so  long  ago 
to  the  dear  adored  one  who  is  at  last  found  again 
is  not  so  far !  Think  of  that,  Signorina,  and  the 
effect  will  be  sure!"  The  charming  artiste 
smiled,  but  had  she  understood? 

So  Ariane  was  finished.  My  illustrious 
friend,  Jules  Claretie,  learned  of  this  and  recalled 
to  me  the  promise  I  had  made  him  of  writing 
Therese,  a  lyric  drama  in  three  acts.  He  added: 

"The  work  will  be  short,  for  the  emotion  it  lets 
loose  cannot  be  prolonged." 

I  went  to  work  on  it,  but  I  will  deal  with  that 

I  have  alluded  to  the  pleasure  I  felt  at  every 
rehearsal  at  the  constant  happy  discoveries  in 
scenery  or  in  feeling.  Ah,  with  what  constantly 



alert  and  devoted  intelligence  our  artists  followed 
the  precious  advice  of  Gailhard ! 

The  month  of  June  was,  however,  marked  by 
dark  days.  One  of  our  artistes  fell  seriously  ill 
and  they  fought  with  death  for  thirty-six  hours  in 
order  to  save  her.  The  work  was  all  ready  for 
the  stage  and  as  that  artiste  was  necessarily  miss- 
ing for  several  weeks,  they  suspended  the  re- 
hearsals during  the  summer.  They  were  re- 
sumed at  the  end  of  September  when  our  artists 
were  all  well  and  together  again.  These  re- 
hearsals were  in  a  general  way  to  go  on  during 
the  month  of  October  and  we  were  to  appear  at 
the  end  of  the  month. 

What  was  said  was  done;  rare  promptness  for 
the  stage.  The  first  performance  was  on  Oc- 
tober 31, 1906. 

Catulle  Mendes,  who  had  often  been  severe  on 
me  in  his  criticisms  in  the  press,  had  become  my 
ardent  collaborator,  and,  something  worth  not- 
ing, he  appreciated  joyfully  the  reverence  I  had 
brought  to  the  delivery  of  his  verses. 

In  our  common  toil,  as  well  as  in  our  studies 
with  the  artists  at  the  playhouse,  I  delighted  in 
his  outbursts  of  devotion  and  affection  and  in  the 
esteem  in  which  he  held  me. 



The  performances  followed  each  other  ten 
times  a  month,  a  unique  fact  in  the  annals  of  the 
theater  for  a  new  work,  and  this  went  on  up  to 
the  sixtieth  performance. 

Apropos  of  this,  they  asked  Lucy  Arbell,  our 
Persephone,  how  many  times  she  had  sung  the 
work,  feeling  sure  that  her  answer  would  be 

"Why,"  she  exclaimed,  "sixty  times!" 

"No,"  replied  her  questioner,  "you  have  sung 
it  one  hundred  and  twenty  times,  for  you  are  al- 
ways encored  in  the  aria  of  the  Roses." 

I  owed  that  sixtieth  performance  to  the  new 
directors,  Mm.  Messager  and  Broussan,  and  that 
seems  to  be  the  last  of  a  work  which  started  off  so 

What  a  difference,  I  say  again,  between  the 
manner  in  which  my  works  have  been  mounted 
for  some  years  and  the  way  they  were  put  on 
when  I  was  beginning ! 

My  first  works  were  put  on  in  the  provinces 
with  old  scenery,  and  I  was  compelled  to  hear  the 
stage  manager  say  things  like  this : 

"For  the  first  act  we  have  found  an  old  back- 
ground from  La  Favorita;  for  the  second  two  sets 
from  Rigoletto,"  etc.,  etc. 



I  recall  an  obliging  director  who  on  the  eve 
of  a  first  performance,  knowing  that  I  lacked  a 
tenor,  offered  me  one,  but  warning  me,  "This 
artist  knows  the  part,  but  I  ought  to  tell  you  that 
he  is  always  flat  in  the  third  act." 

Which  reminds  me  that  in  the  same  house  I 
knew  a  basso  who  had  a  strange  pretension,  still 
more  strangely  expressed,  "My  voice,"  said  our 
basso,  "goes  down  so  far  that  they  can't  find  the 
note  on  the  piano." 

Oh,  well,  they  were  all  valiant  and  honest 
artists.  They  did  me  service  and  had  their  years 
of  success. 

But  I  see  that  I  am  loitering  on  the  way  in 
telling  of  these  old  times.  I  have  to  tell  of  the 
new  work  which  was  in  rehearsal  in  Monte  Carlo 
— I  mean  Therese. 



SPEAKING  OF   1793 

One  summer  morning  in  1905  my  great  frienid, 
Georges  Cain,  the  eminent  and  eloquent  historian 
of  Old  Paris,  got  together  the  beautiful,  charm- 
ing Mme.  Georges  Cain,  Mile.  Lucy  Arbell,  of  the 
Opera,  and  a  few  others  to  visit  what  had  once 
been  the  convent  of  the  Carmelites  in  the  Rue  de 

We  had  gone  through  the  cells  of  the  ancient 
cloister,  seen  the  wells  into  which  the  blood 
stained  horde  of  Septembrists  had  thrown  the 
bodies  of  the  slaughtered  priests,  and  we  had 
come  to  the  gardens  which  remain  so  mournfully 
famous  for  those  frightful  butcheries.  Georges 
Cain  stopped  in  the  middle  of  his  recital  of  these 
dismal  events,  and  pointed  out  to  us  a  white  figure 
wandering  alone  in  the  distance. 

"It  is  the  ghost  of  Lucile  Desmoulins,"  he 
said.  Poor  Lucile  Desmoulins  so  strong  and 
courageous  beside  her  husband  on  his  way  to  the 
scaffold  where  she  was  so  soon  to  follow  him! 



It  was  neither  shade  nor  phantom.  The 
•white  figure  was  very  much  alive !  It  was  Lucy 
Arbell  who  had  heen  overcome  by  deep  emotion 
and  who  had  turned  away  to  hide  the  tears. 

Therese  was  already  revealed.  .  .  . 

A  few  days  afterwards  I  was  lunching  at  the 
Italian  Embassy.  At  dessert  the  kindly  Com- 
tessa  Tornielli  told  us,  with  that  charming  grace 
and  delightful  eloquence  which  were  so  charac- 
teristic of  her,  the  story  of  the  ambassorial  pal- 
ace, Rue  de  Crenelle. 

In  1793  the  palace  belonged  to  the  Gallifet 
family.  Some  of  the  members  of  that  illustrious 
house  were  guillotined,  while  others  went  abroad. 
It  was  determined  to  sell  the  building  as  the 
property  of  the  people,  but  this  was  opposed  by 
a  servant  of  firm  and  decided  character.  "I  am 
the  people,"  he  said,  "and  you  shall  not  take 
from  the  people  what  belongs  to  it.  I  am  in  my 
own  place  here!" 

When  one  of  the  surviving  Gallifet  emigres 
returned  to  Paris  in  1798,  his  first  thought  was 
to  go  and  see  the  family  home.  He  was  greatly 
surprised  when  the  faithful  servant  whose  vigor- 
ous speech  had  prevented  its  destruction  received 
him  and  said,  falling  at  his  master's  feet,  "Mon- 



seigneur,  I  have  taken  care  of  your  property. 
I  give  it  back  to  you." 

The  text  of  Therese  was  foretold.  That  reve- 
lation was  its  presentiment. 

I  had  the  first  vision  of  the  music  of  the  work 
at  Brussels  in  the  Bois  de  la  Cambre  in  Novem- 
ber of  that  year. 

It  was  a  beautiful  afternoon  under  a  dim  au- 
tumnal sun.  One  knew  that  the  beneficent  sap 
was  slowly  running  down  in  the  beautiful  trees. 
The  gay  green  foliage  which  had  crowned  their 
tops  had  disappeared.  One  by  one  at  the  caprice 
of  the  wind  the  leaves  fell,  dried  up,  reddened 
and  yellowed  by  the  cold,  taking  in  the  gold, 
irony  of  Nature !  its  very  brilliance,  and  shadings 
and  most  varied  tints. 

Nothing  resembled  less  the  poor  sorry  trees  of 
our  Bois  de  Boulogne.  In  the  mighty  spread  of 
their  branches  those  magnificent  trees  remind 
one  of  those  which  are  so  much  admired  in  the 
parks  at  Windsor  and  Richmond.  I  walked  on 
the  dead  leaves,  scuffling  them  with  my  feet. 
Their  rustling  pleased  me  and  were  a  delightful 
accompaniment  to  my  thoughts. 

I  was  closer  to  the  heart  of  my  work,  "in  the 
bowels  of  the  subject,"  for  among  the  four  or 



five  people  with  me  was  the  future  heroine  of 

I  searched  everywhere,  greedily,  for  all  that 
had  to  do  with  the  horrible  period  of  the  Terror, 
in  all  the  engravings  which  would  give  me  the 
sinister  dark  story  of  that  epoch,  in  order  to  make 
the  scenes  in  the  second  act  as  true  as  possible, 
and  I  confess  that  I  like  it. 

I  returned  to  Paris  to  my  room  Rue  de  Vau- 
girard,  and  wrote  the  music  of  Therese  during 
the  winter  and  spring  (I  finished  it  in  the  sum- 
mer at  the  seashore) . 

I  remember  that  one  morning  the  work  on  one 
situation  demanded  the  immediate  assistance  of 
my  collaborator,  Jules  Claretie,  and  that  it  un- 
nerved me  a  good  deal.  I  decided  forthwith  to 
write  to  the  Minister  of  Posts,  Telegraphs  and 
Telephones  and  ask  him  to  grant  me  an  almost 
impossible  thing:  to  place  a  telephone  in  my 
room  before  four  o'clock. 

Naturally  the  tone  of  my  letter  reflected  that 
of  a  deferential  petition. 

How  could  I  have  hoped  for  it?  When  I  re- 
turned from  my  affairs,  I  found  on  my  mantel  a 
pretty  telephone  apparatus  which  was  quite  new. 

The  Minister,  M.  Berard,  one  of  our  most  dis- 


tinguished  men  of  letters,  had  felt  bound  to  in- 
terest himself  in  my  capricious  wish  on  the  spot. 
He  had  sent  a  crew  of  twenty  men  with  every- 
thing required  for  a  rapid  installation. 

Dear,  charming  minister!  I  love  him  the 
more  for  his  kindly  word  one  day.  "I  was 
happy,"  he  said,  "to  give  you  such  pleasure,  to 
you  who  have  given  me  so  much  pleasure  at  the 
theater  with  your  works." 

Pan  pari  refertur,  yes,  it  was  returning  like 
for  like,  but  done  with  a  grace  and  kindness 
which  I  appreciated  highly. 

Hello!  .  .  .  Hello!  At  the  first  attempt  I 
was  very  clumsy  of  course.  All  the  same  I  man- 
aged to  hold  a  conversation. 

I  also  learned,  another  useful  kindness,  that 
my  number  would  not  appear  in  the  Annuaire. 
Consequently  nobody  could  call  me  up.  I  was 
the  only  one  who  could  use  the  marvellous  in- 

I  did  not  wait  long  to  call  up  Claretie  and  he 
was  much  surprised  by  the  call  from  the  Rue 
Vaugirard.  I  told  him  my  ideas  about  the  diffi- 
cult scene  which  had  brought  about  the  installa- 
tion of  the  telephone. 

The  difficulty  was  in  the  final  scene. 


I  telephoned  to  him, 

"Cut  Therese's  throat  and  it  will  be  all  right." 

I  heard  an  unknown  voice  crying  excitedly 
(our  wire  was  crossed)  : 

"Oh,  if  I  only  knew  who  you  were,  you  scoun- 
drel, I  would  denounce  you  to  the  police.  A 
crime  like  that!  Who  is  to  be  the  victim?" 

Suddenly  Claretie's  voice: 

"Once  her  throat  is  cut  she  will  be  put  in  the 
cart  with  her  husband.  I  prefer  that  to  poison." 

The  other  man's  voice: 

"Oh,  that's  too  much !  Now  the  rascals  want 
to  poison  her.  I'll  call  the  superintendent.  I 
want  an  inquiry!" 

A  terrible  buzzing  ensued;  then  a  blissful 

It  was  time;  with  a  subscriber  roused  to  such 
a  pitch,  Claretie  and  I  ran  the  chance  of  a  bad 
quarter  of  an  hour!  I  still  tremble  at  the 
thought  of  it. 

After  that  I  often  worked  with  Claretie  over 
the  wire.  The  Ariane  thread  also  took  my  voice 
to  Persephone,  I  should  say  .  .  .  Therese, 
whom  I  let  hear  in  this  way  this  or  that  vocal 
ending,  so  as  to  have  her  opinion  before  I  wrote 
down  the  notes. 



One  beautiful  spring  day  I  went  to  revisit  the 
Garden  at  Bagatelle  and  its  pretty  pavilion,  then 
still  abandoned,  which  the  Comte  d'Artois  had 
built  under  Louis  XVI.  I  fixed  thoroughly  in 
my  memory  that  delightful  little  chateau  which 
the  triumphant  Revolution  allowed  to  be  ex- 
ploited for  picnic  parties  after  despoiling  its  old- 
time  owner  of  it.  When  he  got  it  back  under  the 
Restoration,  the  Comte  d'Artois  called  it  Babiole, 
Bagatelle  or  Babiole  it's  all  the  same;  and  this 
same  pavilion  was  occupied  almost  to  our  own 
time  by  Sir  Richard  Wallace,  the  famous  million- 
aire, philanthropist  and  collector. 

Later  on  I  wanted  the  scenery  of  the  first  act 
of  Therese  to  reproduce  it  exactly.  Our  artiste 
(Lucy  Arbell)  was  especially  impressed  with  the 
idea.  It  is  well  known  that  her  ancestry  makes 
her  one  of  the  descendants  of  the  Marquis  of 

When  the  score  was  finished  and  we  knew  the 
intentions  of  Raoul  Gunsbourg,  who  wanted  the 
work  for  the  Monte  Carlo  Opera,  Mme.  Massenet 
and  I  were  informed  that  H.  S.  H.  the  Prince  of 
Monaco  would  honor  our  modest  home  with  his 
presence,  and  with  the  chief  of  his  household, 
the  Comte  de  Lamotte  d'Allogny,  would  lunch 



with  us.  We  immediately  invited  my  collabo- 
rator and  Mme.  Claretie  and  my  excellent  pub- 
lisher and  Mme.  Heugel. 

The  Prince  of  Monaco  with  his  deep  simplicity 
was  good  enough  to  sit  near  a  piano  I  had  got  in 
for  the  occasion  and  listen  to  passages  from 
Therese.  He  learned  the  following  detail  from 
us.  During  the  first  reading  Lucy  Arbell,  a  true 
artist,  stopped  me  as  I  was  singing  the  last  scene, 
where  Therese  gasps  with  horror  as  she  sees  the 
awful  cart  bringing  her  husband,  Andre  Thorel, 
to  the  scaffold  and  cries  with  all  her  might, 
"Vive  le  Roi!"  so  as  to  ensure  that  she  shall  be 
reunited  with  her  husband  in  death.  Just  then, 
our  interpreter,  who  was  deeply  affected,  stopped 
me  and  said  in  a  burst  of  rapture,  "I  can  never 
sing  that  scene  through,  for  when  I  recognize  my 
husband  who  has  given  me  his  name  and  saved 
Armand  de  Clerval,  I  ought  to  lose  my  voice. 
So  I  ask  you  to  declaim  all  of  the  ending  of  the 

Only  great  artists  have  such  inborn  gifts  of 
instinctive  emotion.  Witness  Mme.  Fides  De- 
vries  who  asked  me  to  rewrite  the  aria  of  Chi- 
mene,  "Pleurez  mes  yeux"  She  found  that 
while  she  was  singing  it  she  thought  only  of  her 



dead  father  and  almost  forgot  her  friend,  Rodri- 

A  sincere  touch  was  suggested  by  the  tenor, 
Talazac,  the  creator  of  Des  Grieux.  He  wanted 
to  add  toi  before  vous  which  he  uttered  on  finding 
Manon  in  the  seminaire  of  Saint  Sulpice.  Does 
not  that  toi  indicate  the  first  cry  of  the  old  lover 
on  seeing  his  mistress  again? 

The  preliminary  rehearsals  of  Therese  took 
place  in  the  fine  apartment,  richly  decorated  with 
old  pictures  and  work  of  art,  which  Raoul  Guns- 
bourg  had  in  the  Rue  de  Rivoli. 

It  was  New  Year's  and  we  celebrated  by  work- 
ing in  the  salon  from  eight  o'clock  in  the  evening 
until  midnight. 

Outside  it  was  cold,  but  a  good  fire  made  us 
forget  that,  as  we  drank  in  that  fine  exquisite  at- 
mosphere champagne  to  the  speedy  realization 
of  our  common  hopes. 

How  exciting  and  impressive  those  rehearsals 
were  as  they  brought  together  such  fine  artists  as 
Lucy  Arbell,  Edmond  Clement  and  Dufranne ! 

The  first  performance  of  Therese  came  the 
next  month,  February  7,  1907,  at  the  Monte 
Carlo  Opera. 

That  year  my  dear  wife  and  I  were  again  the 


guests  of  the  Prince  in  that  magnificent  palace 
my  admiration  for  which  I  have  already  told. 

His  Highness  invited  us  to  his  box — the  one 
where  I  had  heen  called  at  the  end  of  the  premiere 
of  Le  Jongleur  de  Notre  Dame  and  where  the 
Prince  of  Monaco  himself  had  publicly  invested 
me  with  the  Grand  Cordon  of  the  Order  of  St. 

It  is  a  fine  thing  to  go  to  the  theater,  but  it  is 
an  entirely  different  thing  to  be  present  at  a  per- 
formance and  listen  to  it.  So  the  evening  of 
Therese  I  again  took  my  accustomed  place  in  the 
Prince's  salon.  Tapestries  and  doors  separated 
it  from  the  box.  I  was  alone  there  in  silence, 
at  least  I  might  expect  to  be. 

Silence  ?  The  roar  of  applause  which  greeted 
our  artists  was  so  great  that  neither  doors  nor 
hangings  could  muffle  it. 

At  the  official  dinner  given  at  the  palace  the 
next  day  our  applauded  creators  were  invited  and 
feted.  My  celebrated  confrere  Louis  Diemer, 
the  marvellous  virtuoso,  who  had  consented  to 
play  the  harpsichord  in  the  first  act  of  Therese, 
Mme.  Louise  Diemer,  Mme.  Massent  and  I  were 
there.  To  reach  the  banquet  hall  my  wife  and 
I  had  to  go  up  the  Stairs  of  Honor.  It  was  near 



our  apartment — that  ideally  beautiful  apart- 
ment, truly  a  place  of  dreams. 

For  two  consecutive  years  Therese  was  played 
at  Monte  Carlo  and  with  Lucy  Arbell,  the  cre- 
ator, we  had  the  brilliant  tenor,  Rousseliere  and 
the  master  professor,  Bouvet. 

In  March,  1910,  fetes  of  unusual  and  unheard 
of  splendor  were  given  at  Monaco  at  the  opening 
of  the  colossal  palace  of  the  Oceanographic  Mu- 

Therese  was  given  at  the  gala  performance  be- 
fore an  audience  which  included  members  of  the 
Institute,  confreres  of  his  Serene  Highness,  a 
member  of  the  Academic  des  Sciences.  Many 
illustrious  persons,  savants  from  the  whole  world, 
representatives  of  the  Diplomatic  Corps,  as  well 
as  M.  Loubet,  ex-president  of  the  Republic,  were 

The  morning  of  the  formal  inauguration  the 
Prince  delivered  an  admirable  address,  to  which 
the  presidents  of  the  foreign  academies  replied. 

I  was  already  much  indisposed  and  I  could 
not  take  my  place  at  the  banquet  at  the  palace, 
after  which  the  guests  attended  the  gala  perform- 
ance of  which  I  have  spoken. 

Henry  Roujon,  my  confrere  at  the  Institute, 


was  good  enough  at  the  banquet  the  following 
day,  to  read  the  speech  I  would  have  delivered 
myself  had  I  not  been  obliged  to  stay  in  bed. 

To  be  read  by  Henri  Roujon  is  both  honor  and 

Saint-Saens  was  also  invited  to  the  fetes  and 
he  too  stayed  in  the  palace.  He  lavished  the 
most  affectionate  care  on  me  constantly.  The 
Prince  himself  deigned  to  visit  me  in  my  sick 
room  and  both  told  me  of  the  success  of  the  per- 
formance and  of  our  Therese,  Lucy  Arbell. 

The  doctor  had  left  me  quieter  in  the  evening 
and  he  too  opened  my  door  about  midnight.  He 
doubtless  did  so  to  see  how  I  was,  but  he  also  told 
me  of  the  fine  performance.  He  knew  it  would 
be  balm  of  certain  efficacy  for  me. 

Here  is  a  detail  which  gave  me  great  satisfac- 

They  had  given  Le  Vieil  Aigle  by  Raoul  Guns- 
bourg  in  which  Mme.  Marguerite  Carre,  the  wife 
of  the  manager  of  the  Opera-Comique,  was  highly 
applauded.  Albert  Carre  had  been  present  at 
the  performance  and  he  met  one  of  his  friends 
from  Paris  and  told  him  that  he  was  going  to  put 
on  Therese  at  the  Opera-Comique  with  its  dra- 
matic creatrix. 



As  a  matter  of  fact  four  years  after  the  premi- 
ere at  Monte  Carlo  and  after  many  other  houses 
had  performed  the  work,  the  first  performance 
of  Therese  was  given  at  the  Opera-Comique  on 
May  28, 1911.  L'Echo  de  Paris  was  so  kind  as 
to  publish  for  the  occasion  a  wonderfully  got  up 

As  I  write  these  lines,  I  read  that  the  second 
act  of  Therese  is  a  part  of  that  rare  program  of 
the  fete  offered  to  me  at  the  Opera  on  Sunday, 
December  10,  1911,  by  the  organizers  of  the 
pious  French  popular  charity,  "Trente  Ans  de 
Theatre,"  the  useful  creation  of  my  friend, 
Adrian  Bernheim,  whose  mind  is  as  generous  as 
his  soul  is  great  and  good. 

A  dear  friend  said  to  me  recently,  "If  you 
wrote  Le  Jongleur  de  Notre  Dame  with  faith,  you 
wrote  Therese  with  all  your  heart." 

Nothing  could  be  said  more  simply,  and  noth- 
ing could  touch  me  more. 




I  never  deliver  a  work  until  I  have  kept  it  by 
me  for  months,  even  for  years. 

I  had  finished  Therese — long  before  it  was 
produced — when  my  friend  Heugel  told  me  that 
he  had  already  made  arrangements  with  Catulle 
Mendes  to  write  a  sequel  to  Ariane. 

Although  to  our  way  of  thinking  Bacchus  was 
a  distinct  work,  it  should  form  a  whole  with 

The  text  for  it  was  written  in  a  few  months 
and  I  took  great  interest  in  it. 

And  yet — and  this  is  entire  accord  with  my 
character — hesitation  and  doubt  often  bothered 

Of  all  the  fabulous  stories  of  the  gods  and 
demigods  of  antiquity  those  which  relate  to  the 
Hindu  heroes  are  perhaps  the  least  known. 

The  study  of  the  fables  of  mythology,  which 
has  had  until  recently  only  the  interest  of  curi- 
osity in  even  the  most  classical  learning,  has, 
thanks  to  the  work  of  modem  scholars,  acquired 



a  higher  import  as  they  have  discovered  its  role 
in  the  history  of  religion. 

To  allow  the  inspiration  of  his  poetic  muse, 
which  was  always  so  ardent  and  finely  colored, 
wander  at  will  in  such  a  region  was  bound  to  de- 
light the  well  informed  mind  of  Catulle  Mendes. 

Palmiki's  Sanscrit  poem,  the  Ramayana,  is  at 
once  religious  and  epic.  For  those  who  have 
read  that  sublime  poem  it  is  more  curious  and 
greater  than  even  the  Nibelungen,  Germany's  epic 
of  the  Middle  Ages,  which  traces  the  struggle  be- 
tween the  family  of  the  Nibelungen  with  Etzel  or 
Attila  and  their  consequent  destruction.  There 
is  nothing  exaggerated  in  calling  the  Ramayana 
the  Iliad  or  Odyssey  of  India.  It  is  as  divinely 
beautiful  as  the  immortal  work  of  old  Homer 
which  has  come  down  through  the  centuries. 

I  knew  the  legend  through  reading  and  re- 
reading it,  but  what  I  had  to  do  in  my  work  was 
to  add  to  my  thought  what  the  words,  the  verses, 
and  the  situations  even  could  not  explain  clearly 
enough  to  the  often  inattentive  public. 

My  work  this  time  was  intense,  obstinate,  im- 
placable. I  literally  fought;  I  cut  out,  and  I 
replaced.  At  last  I  finished  Bacchus — after  de- 
voting many  days  and  months  to  it. 


Queen  Amahelly  (Bacchus) 


The  cast  selected  by  the  new  management  at 
the  Opera,  Mm.  Messager  and  Broussan,  was  as 
follows:  Lucienne  Breval  reappeared  as  Ari- 
ane;  Lucy  Arbell,  in  memory  of  her  success  as 
Persephone  was  Queen  Amahelly  in  love  with 
Bacchus;  Muratore,  our  Thesus,  doubled  in  the 
part  of  Bacchus,  and  Gresse  accepted  the  role  of 
the  fanatical  priest. 

The  new  management  was  not  yet  firmly  in  the 
saddle  and  wanted  to  give  our  work  a  magnificent 

Even  as  they  had  been  previously  cruel  to 
Le  Mage  and  to  our  excellent  director,  Gailhard 
(which  did  not  prevent  his  going  back  there  soon 
afterwards,  better  liked  than  ever)  now  they  were 
hard  on  Bacchus. 

When  Bacchus  went  on  both  the  press  and  the 
public  were  undecided  about  the  real  worth  of  the 
new  management. 

Giving  a  work  under  such  conditions  was  run- 
ning a  danger  a  second  time.  I  saw  it,  but  too 
late;  for  the  work,  in  spite  of  its  faults,  did  not 
seem  to  warrant  such  an  amount  of  abuse. 

The  public,  however,  which  lets  itself  go  in 
the  sincerity  of  its  feelings,  showed  a  very  com- 
forting enthusiasm  in  certain  parts  of  the  work. 



It  received  the  first  scene  of  the  third  act,  espe- 
cially, with  applause  and  numerous  recalls. 
The  ballet  in  the  forests  of  India  was  highly  ap- 
preciated. The  entrance  of  Bacchus  in  his  car 
(admirably  staged)  was  a  great  success. 

With  a  little  patience  the  good  public  would 
have  triumphed  over  the  ill  will  of  which  I  had 
been  forewarned. 

One  day  in  February,  1909, 1  had  finished  an 
act  of  Don  Quichotte  (I  will  speak  of  that  later 
on) — it  was  four  o'clock  in  the  afternoon — and 
I  rushed  to  my  publishers  to  keep  an  appoint- 
ment with  Catulle  Mendes.  I  thought  I  was 
late,  and  as  I  went  in  I  expressed  my  regret  at 
keeping  my  collaborator  waiting.  An  employee 
answered  me  in  these  words: 

"He  will  not  come.     He  is  dead." 

My  brain  reeled  at  the  terrible  news.  I  would 
not  have  been  more  knocked  out  if  some  one  had 
hit  me  over  the  head  with  a  club.  In  an  instant 
I  learned  the  details  of  the  appalling  catastrophe. 

When  I  came  to  myself  I  could  only  say,  "We 
are  lost  as  far  as  Bacchus  is  concerned  at  the 
Opera.  Our  most  precious  support  is  gone." 

The  anger  his  keen,  fine  criticism  aroused 


against  Catulle  Mendes  was  a  pretext  for  revenge 
on  the  part  of  the  slaughtered. 

These  fears  were  only  too  well  justified  by  the 
doubts  of  which  I  have  spoken  and  if,  in  the  se- 
quel, Catulle  Mendes  had  been  present  at  our 
rehearsals  he  would  have  been  of  great  assistance. 

My  gratitude  to  those  great  artists — Breval, 
Arbell,  Muratore,  Gresse — is  very  great.  They 
fought  brilliantly  and  their  talents  inspired  faith 
in  a  fine  work.  It  was  often  planned  to  try  to 
counteract  the  ill  feeling.  I  thank  Mm.  Messa- 
ger  and  Broussan  for  the  thought  although  it 
came  to  nothing. 

I  wrote  an  important  bit  of  orchestration  (with 
the  curtain  down)  to  accompany  the  victorious 
fight  of  the  apes  in  the  Indian  forests  with  the 
heroic  army  of  Bacchus.  I  managed  to  make 
real — at  least  I  think  I  did — in  the  midst  of  the 
symphonic  developments  the  cries  of  the  terrible 
chimpanzees  armed  with  stones  which  they 
hurled  from  the  tops  of  the  rocks. 

Mountain  passes  certainly  don't  bring  good 
luck.  Thermopylae  and  Ronceval  as  Roland 
and  Leonidas  learned  to  their  cost.  All  their 
yalor  was  in  vain. 



While  I  was  writing  this  music  I  went  many 
•times  to  the  Jardin  des  Plantes  to  study  the  habits 
of  these  mammals.  I  loved  these  friends  of 
which  Schopenhauer  spoke  so  evilly  when  he 
said  that  if  Asia  has  her  monkeys  Europe  has  her 
French.  The  German  Schopenhauer  was  not 
very  friendly  to  us. 

Long  before  they  decided,  after  many  discus- 
sions, to  start  rehearsing  Bacchus  (it  did  not  ap- 
pear until  the  end  of  the  season  of  1909)  it  was 
my  good  fortune  to  begin  work  on  the  music  in 
three  acts  for  Don  Quichotte.  Raoul  Guns- 
bourg  was  exceedingly  anxious  to  have  both  the 
subject  and  the  cast  at  the  Monte  Carlo  Opera. 

I  was  in  very  bad  humor  when  I  thought  of  the 
tribulations  Bacchus  had  brought  on  me  without 
there  being  anything  with  which  I  could  reproach 
myself  either  as  a  man  or  as  a  musician. 

So  Don  Quichotte  came  into  my  life  as  a  sooth- 
ing balm.  I  had  great  need  of  it.  Since  the 
preceding  September  I  had  suffered  acute  rheu- 
matic pains  and  I  had  passed  much  more  of  my 
existence  in  bed  than  out  of  it.  I  had  found  a 
device  which  enabled  me  to  write  in  bed. 

I  put  Bacchus  and  its  uncertain  future  out  of 


my  thoughts,  and  day  by  day  I  advanced  the  com- 
position of  Don  Quichotte. 

Henri  Cain,  as  is  his  way,  built  up  very  clev- 
erly a  scenario  out  of  the  heroic  play  by  Le  Lor- 
aine,  the  poet  whose  fine  future  was  killed  by  the 
poverty  which  preceded  his  death.  I  salute  that 
hero  to  art  whose  physiognomy  resembled  so 
much  that  of  our  "Knight  of  the  Doleful  Counte- 


What  charmed  me  and  decided  me  to  write  this 
work  was  Le  Loraine's  stroke  of  genius  in  substi- 
tuting for  the  coarse  wench  at  the  inn,  Cervantes's 
Dulcinee,  the  original  and  picturesque  La  Belle 
Dulcinee.  The  most  renowned  French  authors 
had  not  had  that  idea. 

It  brought  to  our  piece  an  element  of  deep 
beauty  in  the  woman's  role  and  a  potent  poetical 
touch  to  our  Don  Quixote  dying  of  love — real 
love  this  time — for  a  Belle  Dulcinee  who  justified 
the  passion. 

So  it  was  with  infinite  delight  that  I  waited  for 
the  day  of  the  performance  which  came  in  Feb- 
ruary, 1910.  Oh  beautiful,  magnificent  pre- 
miere ! 

They  welcomed  our  marvellous  artists  with 
great  enthusiasm.  Lucy  Arbell  was  dazzling 



and  extraordinary  as  La  Belle  Dulcinee  and 
Greese  was  an  extremely  comical  Sancho. 

In  thinking  over  this  work  which  they  gave  five 
times  in  the  same  season  at  Monte  Carlo — a 
unique  record  in  the  annals  of  that  house — I  feel 
my  whole  being  thrill  with  happiness  at  the 
thought  of  seeing  again  that  dreamland,  the  Pal- 
ace of  Monaco,  and  his  Serene  Highness  on  the 
approaching  occasion  of  Roma. 

New  joys  were  realized  at  the  rehearsals  of 
Don  Quichotte  at  the  Theatre  Lyrique  de  la  Gaite, 
where  I  knew  I  should  receive  the  frankest,  most 
open  and  affectionate  welcome  from  the  directors, 
the  Isola  brothers. 

The  cast  we  had  at  Monte  Carlo  was  changed 
and  at  Paris  we  had  for  Don  Quixote  that  superb 
artist  Vanni  Narcoux  and  for  Sancho  that  mas- 
terly comedian  Lucien  Fugere.  Lucy  Arbell 
owed  to  her  triumph  at  Monte  Carlo  her  engage- 
ment as  La  Belle  Dulcinee  at  the  Theatre  Lyrique 
de  la  Gaite. 

But  was  there  ever  unalloyed  bliss? 

I  certainly  do  not  make  that  bitter  reflection 
in  regard  to  the  brilliant  success  of  our  artists  or 
about  the  staging  of  the  Isola  brothers  which  was 



so  well  seconded  by  the  stage  manager  Labis. 

But  judge  for  yourselves.  The  rehearsals  had 
to  be  postponed  for  three  weeks  on  account  of  the 
severe  and  successive  illnesses  of  our  three  artists. 
A  curious  thing,  however,  and  worthy  of  remark 
was  that  our  three  interpreters  all  got  well  at 
almost  the  same  time,  and  left  their  rooms  on  the 
very  morning  of  the  general  rehearsal. 

The  frantic  applause  of  the  audience  must 
have  been  a  sweet  and  altogether  exquisite  rec- 
ompense for  them  when  it  broke  out  at  the  dress 
rehearsal,  December  28, 1910,  which  lasted  from 
one  till  five  in  the  afternoon. 

My  New  Year's  Day  was  very  festive.  I  was 
ill  and  was  on  my  bed  of  pain  when  they  brought 
me  the  visiting  cards  of  my  faithful  pupils,  happy 
at  my  success,  beautiful  flowers  for  my  wife,  and 
a  delightful  bronze  statuette,  a  gift  from  Raoul 
Gunsbourg,  which  recalled  to  me  all  that  I  owed 
him  for  Don  Quichotte  at  Monte  Carlo,  for  the 
first  performances  and  the  revivals  of  the  same 

The  first  year  of  Don  Quichotte  at  the  Theatre 
Lyrique  de  la  Gaite  there  were  eighty  consecutive 
performances  of  the  work. 



It  is  a  pleasure  to  recall  certain  picturesque 
details  which  interested  me  intensely  during  the 
preliminary  rehearsals. 

First  of  all,  the  curious  audacity  of  Lucy  Ar- 
bell,  our  La  Belle  Dulcinee,  in  wanting  to  accom- 
pany herself  on  the  guitar  in  the  song  in  the 
fourth  act.  In  a  remarkably  short  time,  she 
made  herself  a  virtuoso  on  the  instrument  with 
which  they  accompany  popular  songs  in  Spain, 
Italy,  and  even  in  Russia.  It  was  a  charming 
innovation.  She  relieved  us  of  that  banality  of 
the  artist  pretending  to  play  a  guitar,  while  a  real 
instrumentalist  plays  in  the  wings,  thus  making 
a  discord  between  the  gestures  of  the  singer  and 
the  music.  None  of  the  other  Dulcinees  have 
been  able  to  achieve  this  tour  de  force  of  the  crea- 
trix.  I  recall,  too,  that  knowing  her  vocal  abili- 
ties I  brightened  the  role  with  daring  vocaliza- 
tions which  afterwards  surprised  more  than  one 
interpreter;  and  yet  a  contralto  ought  to  know 
how  to  vocalize  as  well  as  a  soprano.  Le  Pro- 
phete  and  The  Barber  of  Seville  prove  this. 

The  staging  of  the  windmill  scene,  so  ingen- 
iously invented  by  Raoul  Gunsbourg,  was  more 
complicated  at  the  Gaite,  although  they  kept  the 
effect  produced  at  Monte  Carlo. 



A  change  of  horses,  cleverly  hidden  from  the 
audience,  made  them  think  that  Don  Quixote  and 
the  dummy  were  one  and  the  same  man ! 

Gunsbourg's  inspiration  in  staging  the  fifth, 
act  was  also  a  happy  chance.  Any  artist,  even 
though  he  is  the  first  in  the  world,  in  a  scene  of 
agony  wants  to  die  lying  on  the  ground.  With 
a  flash  of  genius  Gunsbourg  cried,  "A  knight 
should  die  standing!"  And  our  Don  Quixote 
(then  Chaliapine)  leaned  against  a  great  tree  in 
the  forest  and  so  gave  up  his  proud  and  love  lorn 




In  the  spring  of  1910  my  health  was  some- 
what uncertain.  Roma  had  been  engraved  long 
before  and  was  available  material;  Panurge  was 
finished  and  I  felt — a  rare  thing  for  me — the  im- 
perative need  of  resting  for  some  months. 

But  it  was  impossible  for  me  to  do  absolutely 
nothing,  to  give  myself  up  completely  to  dolce 
farniente,  delightful  as  that  might  be.  I  looked 
around  and  found  an  occupation  which  would 
weary  neither  my  mind  nor  heart. 

I  have  told  you  that  in  May,  1891,  when  the 
house  of  Hartmann  went  under,  I  entrusted  to  a 
friend  the  scores  of  Werther  and  Amadis.  I  am 
speaking  now  only  of  Amadis.  I  went  to  my 
friend  who  opened  his  strong  box  and  brought 
out,  not  banknotes,  but  seven  hundred  pages  (the 
rough  draft  of  the  orchestration)  which  formed 
the  score  of  Amadis  and  which  had  been  com- 
posed at  the  end  of  1889  and  during  1890.  The 
work  had  waited  there  in  silence  for  twenty-one 

years ! 



Amadis!  What  a  pretty  libretto  I  had  in 
Amadis!  What  a  really  novel  viewpoint !  The 
Knight  of  the  Lily  is  poetically  and  emotionally 
attractive  and  still  remains  the  type  of  the  con- 
stant, respectful  lover.  The  situations  are  en- 
chanting. In  short  what  resurrection  could  be 
more  pleasing  than  that  of  the  noble  heroes  of  the 
Middle  Ages — those  doughty,  valiant,  coura- 
geous knights. 

I  took  this  score  from  the  safe  and  left  in  its 
place  a  work  for  a  quartet  and  two  choruses  for 
male  voices.  Amadis  was  to  be  my  work  for  that 
summer.  I  began  to  copy  it  cheerfully  at  Paris 
and  went  to  £greville  to  continue  on  it. 

In  spite  of  the  fact  that  this  work  was  easy  and 
seemed  to  me  such  a  soothing  and  perfect  seda- 
tive for  the  discomfort  I  felt,  I  found  that  I  was 
really  very  ill.  I  said  to  myself  that  I  had  done 
well  in  giving  up  composing  in  my  precarious 
state  of  health. 

I  went  to  Paris  to  consult  my  physician.  He 
listened  to  my  heart,  and  then,  without  hiding 
from  me  what  his  diagnosis  had  revealed,  said, 

"You  are  very  sick." 

"What,"  I  exclaimed,  "it  is  impossible.  I 
was  still  copying  when  you  came." 



"You  are  seriously  ill,"  he  insisted. 

The  next  morning  the  doctors  and  surgeons 
made  me  leave  my  dear  quiet  home  and  my  be- 
loved room. 

A  motor  ambulance  took  me  to  the  hospital  in 
the  Rue  de  la  Chaise.  It  was  some  consolation 
not  to  leave  my  quarter!  I  was  entered  on  the 
hospital  records  under  an  assumed  name  for  the 
physicians  feared  interviews,  however  friendly, 
which  would  have  been  demanded  and  which  I 
was  absolutely  forbidden  to  grant. 

My  bed,  through  a  most  gracious  care,  was  in 
the  best  room  in  the  place  and  I  was  much  moved 
by  this  attention. 

Surgeon  Professor  Pierre  Duval  and  Drs.  Rich- 
ardiere  and  Laffitte  gave  me  the  most  admirable 
and  devoted  care.  And  there  I  was  in  a  quiet 
which  wrapped  me  in  a  tranquillity  the  value  of 
which  I  appreciated. 

My  dearest  friends  came  to  see  me  whenever 
they  were  allowed.  My  wife  was  much  upset 
and  had  hurried  from  figreville  bringing  me  her 
tender  affection. 

I  was  better  in  a  few  days,  but  the  compulsory 
rest  imposed  on  my  body  did  not  prevent  my 
mind  working. 



I  did  not  wait  for  my  condition  to  improve  be- 
fore I  busied  myself  with  the  speeches  I  would 
have  to  deliver  as  president  of  the  Institute  and 
of  the  Academic  des  Beaux- Arts  (the  double  pres- 
idency fell  to  me  that  year)  and  though  I  was  in 
bed  packed  in  ice,  I  sent  directions  for  the  scenery 
of  Don  Quichotte. 

Finally  I  got  back  home. 

What  a  joy  it  was  to  see  my  home  again,  my 
furniture,  to  find  the  books  whose  pages  I  loved 
to  turn,  all  the  objects  that  delighted  my  eyes  and 
to  which  I  was  accustomed,  to  see  again  those 
who  were  dear  to  me,  and  the  servants  overflow- 
ing with  attentions.  My  joy  was  so  intense  that 
I  burst  into  tears. 

How  happy  I  was  to  take  up  again  my  walks, 
although  I  was  still  uncertain  from  weakness  and 
had  to  lean  on  the  arm  of  my  kind  brother  and  on 
that  of  a  dear  lady!  How  happy  I  was  during 
my  convalescence  to  walk  through  the  shady 
paths  of  the  Luxembourg  amid  the  joyous  laugh- 
ter of  children  gamboling  there  in  all  their  youth- 
fulness,  the  bright  singing  of  the  birds  hopping 
from  branch  to  branch,  content  to  live  in  that 
beautiful  garden,  their  delightful  kingdom.  .  .  . 

£greville,  which  I  had  deserted  when  I  so  little 


dreamed  of  what  was  to  happen  to  me,  resumed 
its  ordinary  life  as  soon  as  my  beloved  wife,  now 
tranquil  about  my  fate,  was  able  to  return. 

The  summer  which  had  been  so  sad  came  to 
an  end  and  autumn  came  with  its  two  public  ses- 
sions of  the  Institute  and  the  Academic  des 
Beaux- Arts,  as  well  as  the  rehearsals  of  Don  Qai- 

An  idea  of  real  interest  was  submitted  to  me 
between  times  by  the  artiste  to  whom  the  mission 
of  making  it  triumph  was  to  fall  later.  I  turned 
the  idea  to  account  and  wrote  a  set  of  composi- 
tions with  the  title  proposed  by  the  interpretess, 
Les  Expressions  Lyriques.  This  combination  of 
two  forces  of  expression,  singing  and  speaking, 
interested  me  greatly ;  especially  in  making  them 
vibrate  in  one  and  the  same  voice. 

Moreover,  the  Greeks  did  the  same  thing  in 
the  interpretation  of  their  hymns,  alternating  the 
chant  with  declamation. 

And  as  there  is  nothing  new  under  the  sun, 
what  we  deemed  a  modern  invention  was  merely 
a  revival  from  the  Greeks.  Nevertheless  we  hon- 
ored ourselves  in  doing  so. 

Since  then  and  ever  since  I  have  seen  audi- 
ences greatly  captivated  by  these  compositions 


Dulcinee  (Don  Quichotte) 


and  deeply  affected  by  the  admirable  personal 
expression  of  the  interpretess. 

As  I  was  correcting  the  last  proofs  of  Panurge 
one  morning,  I  received  a  kindly  visit  from  0. 
de  Lagoanere,  the  general  manager  of  the  Thea- 
tre Lyrique  de  la  Gaite.  The  libretto  of  Panurge 
had  been  entrusted  to  me  by  my  friend  Heugel 
and  its  authors  were  Maurice  Boukay,  the  pseu- 
donym of  Couyba,  later  Minister  of  Commerce, 
and  Georges  Spitzmuller.  De  Lagoanere  came 
in  behalf  of  the  Isola  brothers  to  ask  me  to  let 
them  have  Panurge. 

I  answered  to  this  proceeding,  which  was  as 
spontaneous  as  it  was  flattering,  that  the  gentle- 
men's interest  in  me  was  very  kind  but  that  they 
did  not  know  the  work. 

"That  is  true,"  the  amiable  M.  Lagoanere  an- 
swered at  once,  "but  it  is  a  work  of  yours." 

We  fixed  on  a  date  and  before  we  separated  the 
agreement  was  signed,  including  the  names  of  the 
artists  proposed  by  the  directors. 

Some  weeks  ago  my  good  friend  Adrien  Bern- 
heim  came  to  see  me  and  between  two  sugar 
plums  (he  is  as  much  of  a  gourmand  as  I  am) 
proposed  that  I  should  take  part  in  a  great  per- 



formance  he  was  organizing  in  my  honor  to  cele- 
brate the  tenth  anniversary  of  that  French  popu- 
lar charity  "Trente  Ans  de  Theatre."  "In  my 
honor!"  I  cried  in  the  greatest  confusion. 

No  artist,  even  the  greatest,  could  help  being 
delighted  at  lending  his  presence  at  such  an  eve- 

After  that,  day  by  day,  and  always  at  my  house, 
in  the  sitting  room  in  the  Rue  de  Vaugirard,  I  saw 
gathered  together,  animated  by  an  equal  devotion 
of  making  a  success,  the  general  secretaries  of  the 
Opera  and  the  Opera-Comique,  Mm.  Stuart  and 
Carbonne,  and  the  manager  of  the  Theatre  Ly- 
rique  de  la  Gaite,  M.  0.  de  Lagoanere.  My  dear 
Paul  Vidal,  leader  of  the  orchestra  at  the  Opera 
and  professor  of  composition  at  the  Conserva- 
toire, was  also  there. 

The  program  was  settled  out  of  hand.  The 
private  rehearsals  began  at  once.  Nevertheless 
the  fear  that  I  felt  and  that  I  have  always  had 
when  I  make  a  promise,  that  I  may  be  ill  when  the 
moment  for  fulfilment  comes,  caused  me  more 
than  one  sleepless  night. 

"All's  well  that  ends  well,"  says  the  wisdom  of 
the  nations.  I  was  wrong,  as  you  will  see,  to  tor- 
ture myself  through  so  many  nights. 



As  I  have  said,  no  artist  would  have  felt  happy, 
if  he  had  not  shared  in  that  evening  by  giving  his 
generous  assistance.  Our  valiant  president, 
Adrien  Bernheim,  by  a  few  words  of  patriotism 
induced  all  the  professors  of  the  Opera  orchestra 
to  come  and  rehearse  the  various  acts  inter- 
spersed through  the  program  at  six  twenty-five  in 
the  evening.  Nobody  dined;  everyone  kept  the 

To  you  all,  my  friends  and  confreres,  my  sin- 
cere thanks. 

I  cannot  properly  appraise  this  celebration  in 
which  I  played  so  personal  a  part.  .  .  . 

There  is  no  circumstance  in  life,  however  beau- 
tiful or  serious,  without  some  incident  to  mar  it 
or  to  provide  a  contrast. 

All  my  friends  wanted  to  give  evidence  of  their 
enthusiasm  by  being  present  at  the  soiree  at  the 
Opera.  Among  them  was  a  faithful  frequenter 
of  the  theaters  who  made  a  point  of  coming  to 
express  his  regret  at  not  being  able  to  be  present 
at  this  celebration.  He  had  recently  lost  his  un- 
cle, who  was  a  millionaire  and  whose  heir  he 

I  offered  my  condolences  and  he  went. 

What  is  funnier  is  that  I  was  obliged  to  hear 


fortuitously  the  strange  conversation  about  his 
uncle's  funeral  he  had  with  the  head  undertaker. 

"If,"  said  the  latter,  "Monsieur  wants  a  first 
class  funeral,  he  will  have  the  entire  church  hung 
in  black  and  with  the  arms  of  the  deceased,  the 
Opera  orchestra,  the  leading  singers,  the  most 
imposing  catafalque,  according  to  the  price." 

The  heir  hesitated. 

"Then,  sir,  it  will  be  second  class;  the  orches- 
tra from  the  Opera-Comique,  second  rate  singers 
— according  to  the  amount." 

Further  hesitation. 

Whereupon  the  undertaker  added  in  a  sad 

"Then  it  will  be  third  class;  but  I  warn  you, 
Monsieur,  it  will  not  be  gay!"  (sic). 

As  I  am  on  this  topic  I  will  add  that  I  have  re- 
ceived a  letter  of  congratulations  from  Italy  which 
concludes  with  the  usual  salutations,  but  this 
time  conceived  as  follows : 

"Believe,  dear  sir,  in  my  most  sincere  obse- 
quies." (Free  translation  of  ossequiosita.) 

Sometimes  death  has  as  amusing  sides  as  life 
has  sad  ones. 

Which  brings  to  mind  the  fidelity  with  which 
the  Lionnet  brothers  attended  burials. 



Was  it  sympathy  for  the  departed  or  ambition 
to  see  their  names  among  those  distinguished  per- 
sons mentioned  as  having  been  present?  We 
shall  never  know. 

One  day  in  a  funeral  procession  Victorien  Sar- 
dou  heard  one  of  the  Lionnets  say  to  one  of  his 
neighbors,  with  a  broken-hearted  air,  while  giv- 
ing the  sad  news  about  a  friend's  health,  "Well, 
it  will  be  his  turn  soon." 

These  words  aroused  Sardou's  attention,  and 
he  exclaimed,  pointing  to  the  brothers, 

"They  not  only  go  to  all  the  burials ;  the*;  an- 
nounce them!" 




During  the  summer  of  1902  I  left  Paris  and 
went  to  my  home  in  figreville.  Among  the 
books  and  pamphlets  I  took  with  me  was  Rome 
Vaincue  by  Alexandre  Parodi.  That  magnifi- 
cent tragedy  had  had  a  never  to  be  forgotten  suc- 
cess when  it  was  played  on  the  stage  of  the  Com- 
edie-Frangaise  in  1876. 

Sarah  Bernhardt  and  Mounet-Sully,  then  in 
their  youth,  were  the  protagonists  in  the  two  most 
impressive  acts  of  the  work;  Sarah  Bernhardt  in- 
carnated the  blind  grandmother,  Posthumia,  and 
Mounet-Sully  interpreted  the  Gallic  slave  Vesta- 

Sarah  in  all  the  flower  of  her  radiant  beauty 
had  demanded  the  role  of  the  old  woman,  so  true 
is  it  that  the  real  artiste  does  not  think  of  herself, 
but  knows  when  it  is  necessary  to  abstract  from 
self,  to  sacrifice  her  charms,  her  grace  and  the 
light  of  her  allurements  to  the  higher  exigencies 
of  art. 



The  same  remark  could  be  applied  at  the 
Opera  thirty  years  later. 

I  remember  those  tall  bay  windows  through 
which  the  sunshine  came  into  my  great  room  at 

After  dinner  I  read  the  engaging  brochure, 
Rome  Vaincue,  until  the  last  beams  of  daylight. 
I  could  not  get  away  from  it  I  became  so  enthusi- 
astic. My  reading  was  stopped  only  by 

,  .  .  .  1'obscure  clarte  qui  tombe  des  etoiles 
Bientot  avec  la  nuit  .  .  . 

as  our  great  Corneille  said. 

Need  I  add  that  I  was  unable  to  resist  the  de- 
sire to  go  to  work  immediately  and  that  during  the 
following  days  I  wrote  the  whole  scene  for  Post- 
humia  in  the  fourth  act?  One  might  say  that  in 
this  way  I  worked  by  chance,  as  I  had  not  yet  dis- 
tributed the  scenes  in  accord  with  the  necessities 
of  an  opera.  All  the  same  I  had  already  de- 
cided on  a  title:  Roma. 

The  complete  concentration  with  which  I 
threw  myself  into  this  work  did  not  prevent  my 
realizing  that  in  default  of  Alexandre  Parodi  who 
died  in  1901,  I  needed  the  authority  of  the 
heirs.  I  wrote,  but  my  letter  brought  no  re- 



I  owed  this  contretemps  to  a  wrong  address. 
Indeed  the  widow  of  the  illustrious  poet  of  trag- 
edy told  me  afterwards  that  my  request  never 
reached  its  destination. 

Parodi!  Truly  he  was  the  vir  probus  dicendi 
peritus  of  the  ancients.  What  memories  I  have 
of  our  strolls  along  the  Boulevard  des  Batig- 
nolles !  How  eloquently  he  narrated  the  life  of 
the  Vestals  which  he  had  read  in  Ovid,  their  great 
historian ! 

I  listened  eagerly  to  his  colorful  talk,  so  en- 
thusiastic about  things  of  the  past.  Ah,  his  out- 
hursts  against  all  that  was  not  elevated  in 
thought,  his  noble  pride  in  his  intentions,  digni- 
fied and  simple  in  form — how  superb,  I  say,  these 
outbursts  were,  and  how  one  felt  that  his  soul 
thrilled  in  the  Beyond!  .  It  was  as  if  a  flame 
burned  in  him  searing  on  his  cheeks  the  signs 
of  his  inward  tortures. 

I  admired  him  and  loved  him  deeply.  It 
seems  to  me  that  our  work  together  is  not  fin- 
ished, but  that  some  day  we  shall  be  able  to  take 
it  up  again  in  that  mysterious  realm  whither  we 
go  but  from  which  none  ever  returns. 

I  was  entirely  led  astray  by  the  silence  which 
followed  the  sending  of  my  letter  and  I  was  going 



to  abandon  the  project  of  writing  Roma,  when  a 
master  poet  came  into  my  life.  He  offered  me 
five  acts — Ariane — for  the  Opera,  as  I  have  said 

Five  years  later,  in  1907,  my  friend  Henri 
Cain  asked  me  if  I  intended  to  resume  my  faithful 
collaboration  with  him. 

As  he  chatted  with  me,  he  remarked  that  my 
thoughts  were  elsewhere  and  that  I  was  preoccu- 
pied with  another  idea.  That  was  it  exactly.  I 
was  drawn  to  confess  my  adventure  with  Roma. 

My  desire  to  find  in  that  work  the  text  of  my 
dreams  was  immediately  shared  by  Henri  Cain; 
forty-eight  hours  afterwards  he  brought  me  the 
authorization  of  the  heirs.  They  had  signed  an 
agreement  which  gave  me  five  years  in  which  to 
write  and  put  on  the  work. 

It  is  an  agreeable  thing  to  thank  again  Mme. 
Parodi,  a  woman  of  unusual  and  real  distinc- 
tion, and  her  sons,  one  of  whom  holds  a  high 
place  in  the  Department  of  Public  Instruction. 

As  I  have  already  said,  I  found  myself  in  Feb- 
ruary, 1910,  at  Monte  Carlo  for  the  rehearsals 
and  first  performance  of  Don  Quichotte.  I  again 
lived  as  before  in  that  apartment  in  the  Hotel  du 
Prince  de  Galles  which  has  always  pleased  me  so 



much.  I  always  returned  to  it  with  joy.  How 
could  it  be  otherwise? 

The  room  in  which  I  worked  looked  out  on  the 
level  of  the  boulevards  of  the  city  and  I  had  an 
incomparable  view  from  my  windows. 

In  the  foreground  were  orange,  lemon,  and 
olive  trees;  on  the  horizon  the  great  rock  rising 
out  of  the  azure  waves,  and  on  the  rock  the  old 
palace  modernized  by  the  Prince  of  Monaco. 

In  this  quiet  peaceful  home — an  exceptional 
thing  for  a  hotel — in  spite  of  the  foreign  families 
installed  there,  I  was  stirred  to  work.  During 
my  hours  of  freedom  from  rehearsals  I  busied  my- 
self in  writing  an  overture  for  Roma.  I  had 
brought  with  me  the  eight  hundred  pages  of  or- 
chestration in  finished  manuscript. 

The  second  month  of  my  stay  at  Monte  Carlo 
I  spent  at  the  Palace  of  Monaco.  I  finished  the 
composition  there  amidst  enchantment,  in  its 
deeply  poetic  splendor. 

When  I  was  present  at  the  rehearsals  of  Roma 
two  years  later  and  first  heard  the  work  played  at 
sight  by  the  artists  of  the  Opera  conducted  with 
an  extraordinary  art  by  that  master  Leon  Jehin, 
I  thought  of  the  coincidence  that  these  pages  had 



been  written  on  the  spot  so  near  where  they  were 
to  be  played. 

When  I  returned  to  Paris  in  April,  after  the 
sumptuous  fetes  with  which  the  Oceanographic 
Museum  was  opened,  I  received  a  call  from  Raoul 
Gunsbourg.  He  came  in  the  name  of  his  Serene 
Highness  to  learn  whether  I  had  a  work  I  could 
let  him  have  for  1912.  Roma  had  been  finished 
for  some  time ;  the  material  for  it  was  all  ready, 
and  in  consequence  I  could  promise  it  to  him  and 
wait  two  years  more.  I  offered  it  to  him. 

My  custom,  as  I  have  said,  is  never  to  speak 
of  a  work  until  it  is  entirely  finished,  and  the  ma- 
terials which  are  always  important  are  engraved 
and  corrected.  It  is  a  considerable  task,  for 
which  I  want  to  thank  my  dear  publishers,  Henri 
Heugel  and  Paul-£mile  Chevalier,  as  well  as  my 
rigid  correctors  at  the  head  of  whom  I  love  to 
place  Ed.  Laurens,  a  master  musician.  If  I  in- 
sist on  this,  it  is  because  up  to  now,  nothing  has 
been  able  to  prevent  the  persistence  of  this  form- 
ula, "M.  Massenet  is  hurrying  to  finish  his  score 
in  order  to  be  ready  for  the  first  performance." 
Let  us  record  it  and  get  on ! 

It  was  not  until  December,  1911,  that  the  re- 


hearsals  of  the  artists  in  Roma  began  at  Raoul 
Gunsbourg's,  Rue  de  Rivoli. 

It  was  fine  to  see  our  great  artists  enamored 
of  the  teachings  of  Gunsbourg  who  lived  the 
roles  and  put  his  life  into  it  in  putting  them  on 
the  stage. 

Alas  for  me !  An  accident  put  me  in  bed  at 
the  beginning  of  those  impassioned  studies. 
However,  every  evening  from  five  to  seven  I  fol- 
lowed from  my  bed,  thanks  to  the  telephone,  the 
progress  of  the  rehearsals  of  Roma. 

The  idea  of  not  being  able,  perhaps,  to  go  to 
Monte  Carlo  bothered  me,  but  finally  my  excel- 
lent friend,  the  eminent  Dr.  Richardiere,  author- 
ized my  departure.  On  January  29  my  wife  and 
I  started  for  that  country  of  dreams. 

At  the  station  in  Lyons,  an  excellent  dinner! 
A  good  sign.  Things  look  well. 

The  night,  always  fatiguing  in  a  train,  was  en- 
dured by  means  of  the  joy  of  the  future  rehears- 
als. Things  looked  better ! 

The  arrival  in  my  beloved  room  at  the  Prince 
de  Galles.  An  intoxication.  Things  look  bet- 
ter still! 

What  an  incomparable  health  bulletin,  is  it 



Finally,  the  reading  of  Roma,  in  Italian  with 
the  orchestra,  artists  and  chorus.  There  were 
so  many  fine,  kindly  manifestations,  that  I  paid 
for  my  warm  emotions  by  catching  cold. 

What  a  contrast;  what  irony!  However  why 
be  surprised?  Are  not  all  contrasts  of  that 

Happily  my  cold  did  not  last  long.  Two  days 
later  I  was  up  again,  better  than  ever.  I  profited 
by  this  by  going  with  my  wife,  always  curious  and 
eager  to  see  picturesque  places,  to  wander  in  an 
abandoned  park.  We  were  there  in  the  solitude 
of  that  rich,  luxuriant  nature,  in  the  olive  groves, 
which  let  us  see  through  their  grayish  green 
leaves,  so  tender  and  sweet,  the  sea  in  its  change- 
less blue,  when  I  discovered  .  .  .  a  cat ! 

Yes,  a  cat,  a  real  cat,  and  a  very  friendly  one ! 
Knowing  without  a  doubt  that  I  had  always  been 
friendly  with  his  kind,  he  honored  me  with  his 
society  and  his  insistent  and  affectionate  mewings 
never  left  me.  I  poured  out  my  anxious  heart  to 
this  companion.  Indeed,  it  was  during  my  hours 
of  isolation  that  the  dress  rehearsal  of  Roma  was 
at  its  height.  Yes,  I  said  to  myself,  just  now 
Lentulus  has  arrived.  Now  Junia.  Behold 
Fausta  in  the  arms  of  Fabius.  At  this  very  mo- 



Monte  Carlo, 
Feb.  29,  1912. 
Dear  great  friend, 

You  do  me  the  honor  to  ask  me  for  these  lines 
for  reproduction  in  America. 

In  America !  .  .  * 

It  will  be  my  glory  to  send  thither  my  thought, 
full  of  admiration  for  that  great  country,  for  its 
choice  public,  for  its  theaters  in  which  my  works 
have  been  given.  You  honor  my  artists  and  my- 
self so  much  by  speaking  of  Roma,  and  I  am  the 
prouder  of  your  words  because  they  will  present 
that  tragic  opera  with  your  talent's  high  au- 



DjfWi,  hltuMt  bMn 


tiMfriJjto.  v 

*  <  tvfyv  tw    iU 
\     j         ^  v 



frtywfwtrut  ^^ 
t  lit  Vffa 

Facsimile  of   Massenet's   Reply  to  an  Invitation  to  Visit 



ment  Posthumia  drags  herself  to  the  feet  of  the 
cruel  senators.  For  we,  we  others,  have,  and  it 
is  a  strange  fact,  an  intuition  of  the  exact  moment 
when  this  or  that  scene  is  played,  a  sort  of  divina- 
tion of  the  mathematical  division  of  time  applied 
to  the  action  of  the  theater.  It  was  the  four- 
teenth of  February.  The  sun  of  that  splendid 
day  could  not  but  brighten  the  joy  of  all  my  fine 

I  cannot  speak  of  the  superb  first  performance 
of  Roma  without  a  certain  natural  embarrass- 
ment. I  leave  that  task  to  others,  but  I  permit 
myself  to  reproduce  what  anyone  could  read  in 
the  next  day's  papers. 

The  interpretation — one  of  the  most  beautiful 
that  it  has  been  our  lot  to  applaud — was  in  every 
way  worthy  of  this  new  masterpiece  of  Mas- 

A  remarkable  thing  which  must  be  noted  in 
the  first  place  is  that  all  the  parts  are  what  are 
termed  in  theatrical  parlance  "good  roles." 
Every  one  of  them  gives  its  interpreter  chances 
for  effects  in  singing  and  acting  which  are  cal- 
culated to  win  the  admiration  and  applause  of  the 



Having  said  this  much  in  praise  of  the  work, 
let  us  congratulate  the  marvellous  interpreters  in 
their  order  on  the  program. 

Mile.  Kousnezoff  with  her  youth,  fresh  beauty 
and  superb  dramatic  soprano  voice  was  a  feast  to 
the  eyes  and  the  ears  and  she  will  continue  to 
be  for  a  long  time  the  prettiest  and  most  seduc- 
tive Fausta  that  one  might  wish  for. 

The  particularly  dramatic  part  of  the  blind 
Posthumia  was  the  occasion  of  a  creation  which 
will  rank  among  the  most  extraordinary  in  the 
brilliant  career  of  that  great  operatic  tragedienne 
Lucy  Arbell.  Costumed  with  perfect  esthetic 
appreciation  in  a  beautiful  dark  robe  of  iron  gray 
silk,  with  her  face  artificially  aged  but  beautiful 
along  classic  lines,  Lucy  Arbell  moved  and  stirred 
the  audience  profoundly,  as  much  by  her  impres- 
sive acting  as  by  the  deep  velvety  notes  of  her  con- 
tralto voice. 

Mme.  Guiraudon  in  her  scene  in  the  second  act 
achieved  a  great  personal  success,  and  never  so 
much  as  yesterday  did  the  Paris  critic  regret  that 
this  young,  exquisite  artist  had  abandoned  pre- 
maturely her  career  as  an  artist  and  consents  to 
appear  hereafter  but  rarely  and  ...  at  Monte 



Mme.  Eliane  Peltier  (the  High  Priestess)  and 
Mile.  Doussot  (Galla)  completed  excellently  a 
female  cast  of  the  first  order. 

Furthermore  the  male  parts  were  no  less  re- 
markable or  less  applauded. 

M.  Muratore,  a  grand  opera  tenor  of  superb 
appearance  and  generous  voice,  invested  the  role 
of  Lentulus  with  a  vigor  and  manly  beauty  which 
won  all  hearts,  and  which,  in  Paris  as  at  Monte 
Carlo,  will  ensure  him  a  brilliant  and  memorable 

M.  J.  F.  Delmas  with  his  clear  diction  and  lyr- 
ical declamation,  which  is  so  properly  theatrical, 
was  an  incomparable  Fabius  and  was  no  less 
applauded  than  his  comrades  from  the  Opera, 
Muratore  and  Note.  The  latter  in  fact  was  mar- 
vellous in  the  part  of  the  slave  Vestapor  whose 
wild  imprecations  resounded  to  the  utmost  in  his 
great  sonorous  baritone. 

Finally,  M.  Clauzure,  whose  Roman  mask  was 
perfect,  achieved  a  creation — the  first  in  his  ca- 
reer— which  places  this  young  Premier  Prix  of 
the  Conservatoire  on  an  equal  footing  with  the  fa- 
mous veterans  of  the  Paris  Opera  beside  whom 
last  night  he  fought  the  good  fight  of  art. 

The  chorus,  both  men  and  women,  patiently 


trained  by  their  devoted  master  M.  Louis  Vialet, 
and  the  artists  of  the  Opera,  who  anew  affirmed 
their  mastery  and  homogeneity,  were  irreproach- 
able under  the  supreme  direction  of  the  master 
Leon  Jehin.  All  the  composers  whose  works  he 
conducts  justly  load  him  down  with  thanks  and 
felicitations,  and  his  talent  and  indefatigable 
power  are  acclaimed  constantly  by  all  the  dilet- 
tanti of  Monte  Carlo. 

M.  Visconti,  who  in  his  way  is  one  of  the  indis- 
pensable artistic  mainsprings  of  the  Theatre  de 
Monte  Carlo,  painted  five  scenes  of  Roma,  better 
five  masterly  paintings,  which  were  greatly  ad- 
mired and  which  won  great  admiration  and  pro- 
longed applause.  His  "Forum"  and  "Sacred 
Grove"  are  among  the  most  beautiful  theatrical 
paintings  ever  seen  here. 

As  for  M.  Raoul  Gunsbourg,  the  stage  mana- 
ger in  whose  praise  it  is  henceforth  superfluous 
to  speak,  it  is  sufficient  to  say  that  Roma  is  one  of 
the  scores  he  has  put  on  with  the  most  pleasure 
and  the  most  sincere  veneration.  That  is  to  say 
that  he  brought  to  bear  on  it  all  his  care,  and  all 
his  dictatorial  and  artistic  mind. 

With  such  a  combination  of  the  elements  of 
success  put  into  Roma,  victory  was  certain.  Last 



night's  triumph  was  one  of  the  most  complete 
that  we  have  had  to  chronicle  here  for  fifteen 
years.  And  it  is  with  joy  that  we  affirm  this  to 
the  glory  of  the  Master,  Massenet,  and  of  the 
Monte  Carlo  Opera. 

That  year  the  days  passed  at  the  Palace  were 
all  the  sweeter  to  my  heart  as  the  Prince  showed 
me  an  even  more  touching  affection,  if  that  were 

I  was  honored  by  the  duty  of  attending  in  the 
salon  adjoining  the  Prince's  box  (everyone  knows 
that  I  do  not  attend  first  performances)  and  I 
recall  that  his  Serene  Highness  at  the  end  of  the 
first  act,  in  front  of  the  attentive  assemblage,  said 
to  me,  "I  have  given  you  all  I  could;  I  have  not 
yet  embraced  you."  And  as  he  said  this  his 
Highness  embraced  me  with  keen  emotion. 

Here  I  am  in  Paris,  on  the  eve  of  the  rehearsals 
and  first  performance  of  Roma  at  the  Opera.  I 
have  hope  ...  I  have  such  admirable  artists. 
They  have  already  won  the  first  battle  for  me. 
Will  they  not  be  able  to  triumph  in  the  second? 




I  have  departed  from  this  planet  and  I  have 
left  behind  my  poor  earthly  ones  with  their  occu- 
pations which  are  as  many  as  they  are  useless ;  at 
last  I  am  living  in  the  scintillating  splendor  of 
the  stars,  each  of  which  used  to  seem  to  me  as 
large  as  millions  of  suns.  Of  old  I  was  never 
able  to  get  such  lighting  for  my  scenery  on  the 
great  stage  at  the  Opera  where  the  backdrops 
were  too  often  in  darkness.  Henceforth  there 
will  be  no  letters  to  answer ;  I  have  bade  farewell 
to  first  performances  and  the  literary  and  other 
discussions  which  come  from  them. 

Here  there  are  no  newspapers,  no  dinners,  no 
sleepless  nights.  Ah !  if  I  could  but  counsel  my 
friends  to  join  me  here,  I  would  not  hesitate  to 
call  them  to  me.  But  would  they  come? 

Before  I  came  to  this  distant  place  where  I 
now  sojourn,  I  wrote  out  my  last  wishes  (an  un- 
happy husband  would  have  taken  advantage  of 
the  occasion  to  write  with  joy,  "my  first  wishes"). 



I  had  indicated  that  above  all  I  wanted  to  be 
buried  at  £greville,  near  the  family  abode  in 
which  I  had  lived  so  long.  Oh,  the  good  ceme- 
tery in  the  open  fields,  silent  as  befits  those  who 
live  there ! 

I  asked  that  they  should  refrain  from  hanging 
black  draperies  on  my  door,  ornaments  worn 
threadbare  by  use.  I  expressed  the  wish  that  a 
suitable  carriage  should  take  me  from  Paris,  the 
journey,  with  my  consent,  to  begin  at  eight  in  the 

An  evening  paper  (perhaps  two)  felt  it  to  be 
its  duty  to  inform  its  readers  of  my  decease.  A 
few  friends — I  still  had  some  the  day  before — 
came  and  asked  my  concierge  if  the  news  were 
true,  and  he  replied,  "Alas,  Monsieur  went  with- 
out leaving  his  address."  And  his  reply  was 
true  for  he  did  not  know  where  that  obliging  car- 
riage was  taking  me. 

At  lunch  acquaintances  honored  me  among 
themselves  with  their  condolences,  and  during 
the  day  here  and  there  in  the  theaters  they  spoke 
of  the  adventure, 

"Now  that  he  is  dead,  they'll  play  him  less, 
won't  they?" 

"Do  you  know  he  left  still  another  work?" 


"Ah,  believe  me,  I  loved  him  well!  I  have 
always  had  such  great  success  in  his  works." 

A  woman's  lovely  voice  said  that. 

They  wept  at  my  publishers,  for  there  they 
loved  me  dearly. 

At  home,  Rue  de  Vaugirard,  my  wife,  daugh- 
ter, grandchildren  and  great-grandchildren  gath- 
ered and  almost  found  consolation  in  their  sobs. 

The  family  was  to  reach  figreville  the  same 
evening,  the  night  before  my  burial. 

And  my  soul  (the  soul  survives  the  body)  lis- 
tened to  all  these  sounds  from  the  city  left  behind. 
As  the  carriage  took  me  farther  and  farther  away, 
the  talking  and  the  noises  grew  fainter  and 
fainter,  and  I  knew,  for  I  had  my  vault  built  long 
ago,  that  the  heavy  stone  once  sealed  would  be  a 
few  hours  later  the  portal  of  oblivion. 



from  which  it  was  borrowed. 

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